Exercise is a tricky thing to talk about because it's like a prescription....each person will have different recommendations.
Let me start out by saying that if there are any medical reasons why you should not be exercising at the moment, DON'T!! Some examples of this can include a broken or sprained body part, an active eating disorder, any acute illness, etc. Many people get frustrated when I tell them this but let me explain. Your body requires certain amounts of energy and nutrients to carry out every day functions like breathing, thinking, digesting and just being alive. Exercise requires energy and nutrients above and beyond this so you need to be in a healthy place physically in order to move forward.
If exercise has been approved for you, here's what I have to say. Don't overdo it and don't expect it to solve any body image issues you may have. I feel like exercise is now being treated like dieting. There is always a new fad exercise to try and it always has promises attached to it about your body and weight that are either unattainable in the long term or very unrealistic. Because of this, many people tend to overdo it and cause more harm than good to their bodies.
When people hear my thoughts, they think I am a dietitian that's against exercise! Let me clear that up right now...I am not against exercise at all. I am against people exercising for the wrong reasons ("fixing" body parts and shapes, losing weight) and I am against over-exercising the same way I am against dieting! Remember my motto?? "Everything in moderation".
Let's break down the wrong reasons. Remember my post on set point theory? If not let me remind you. Our body's weight and shape is determined by genetics. Exercise and dieting can try to change this but in the long term, your genetics will win! Also, just like dieting, many people will never feel satisfied and will keep wanting to change more and more about them because the issue is their image of themselves and not their actual body.
What are the "right" reasons to exercise? Exercise has many health benefits including helping your heart, helping your digestion(helps with constipation), and helping people fight certain diseases. My favourite reason though is that exercise is a natural anti-depressant! When a person exercises, they release endorphins which make us feel good.(Side note: We get endorphins from chocolate too!) Anxiety levels decrease as well!
What's moderation when it comes to exercise? It's hard to not want to do something that makes us feel good all the time isn't it? I recommend joining a class once or twice a week. These classes are great because they get you out of your head and have a definite start and end time. It is too easy for people to get on a bike or treadmill at the gym and stay in their head and push themselves too hard! Be social, and most importantly have fun!
Finally, let's chat about compensation. Remember I said that exercise requires more nutrients and energy? That means you need to be eating more than you would be without the exercise. For those of you that speak my language, I recommend 1 exchange/choice for every 15 minutes of activity. For those of you who don't speak this language, go to a coffee shop after your hour long class with some of your friends and buy yourself a snack there.
Have fun!! :)