When your trainer asks you if you did any exercise over the weekend, never answer with “I went shopping”. The mall is not a fitness centre. Unless you spent a considerable amount of time on the treadmill in Sears, the answer is no.
Kidding aside, active living is very important in our daily lives. Cleaning the house, taking the stairs and parking at the furthest end of the lot, is absolutely necessary in our sedentary lives. We need to balance all of the sitting with some movement. Go out for a walk on your lunch, do some squats or climb some stairs on your break and get up and stretch throughout the day. Keep it moving and keep it working.
Cardiovascular exercise is quite a different thing. Activities such as power walking, running, cycling, swimming, elliptical and stair climbing all require a bit of sweat, effort, and skill. The endurance, strength and intensity involved in these activities will strengthen your heart and lungs. They can also improve your balance, proprioception and joint mobility. When you walk for exercise it should be brisk. You should be able to talk, but you may prefer not to. It is recommended that you do 3 – 5 sessions of aerobic activity per week. If you only have 20 minutes, crank up the intensity (always consult your Doctor first, of course). If you have more time, high to moderate intensity will give you a good workout. Also, make sure to add some resistance and flexibility training to your routine as well.
This being said, sometimes there is nothing better than a slow, thoughtful hike on a nature trail. We all need that for peace of mind. Everything has it’s place. It always comes back to finding balance and giving your mind, body and soul what it needs, when it needs it.
Cross Training combines different modes of training and exercises, avoiding adherence to just one modality that repeatedly works the same muscle groups. Adding other modes of training to supplement your preferred activity will ensure that you work your opposing muscle groups to avoid injury. For example, a runner may want to incorporate cycling, elliptical, core training or swimming into their routine. These are all low impact forms of exercise that will enhance running performance. By doing other activities, you will be calling on muscle groups that may not be as engaged in your primary activity. Overuse injuries are extremely common in someone who does the same type of workout day in, day out. Add something new at least one day per week and avoid the repetitive stress on your body.
A Few More Reasons To Cross Train
Weight Loss: Staying locked into the same routine month after month won’t stimulate and challenge your body. Without change in your routine, your body will adapt and eventually hit a plateau. To keep your body responding, challenge it by adding different modes of training and you will continue to see change.
Exercise Adherence: Add a secondary activity to keep yourself motivated and engaged. The more creative you are with your workouts, the more likely you will be to stick with it.
Enhanced Performance: Cross training can enhance your performance in your chosen sport. If you want to be a better endurance runner, do core training, stair climbing and cycling. This will engage other muscle groups not primarily used when running and stimulate different patterns of recruitment.
Brain Health: Adding variety to your routine and trying new activities will keep your brain engaged. The brain’s neuroplasticity will improve as it processes each new activity, creating new neural pathways. Here is the mind-body connection at work again!
I went out for a run this morning and the air was so fresh and cool for the first time in a long time. You could feel the change of season approaching. Ya gotta love fall running. No more chafing! No more sweating your Dri-Fit shirts out of working capacity! Soon it will be time to pull out the longer pants, hats and arm sleeves to add a light layer of warmth…….segue to……my beautiful new arm sleeves, custom made by my talented friend, Cathy. She even embroidered my company name on them!!! LOVE!! Can’t wait to try them out! Thanks to Cathy!
One morning on my way home from a long run, I was going up the waterfront stairs and someone wrote this motivational-ish message on each step. Made me laugh.
When I went back a couple days later, someone scratched out “skinny” and wrote “stronger”….perfect!
At the beginning of summer I was running up Longwood road and suddenly saw a family of deer (if you squint, you’ll see them at the top of the hill). We all just stood there looking at each other for quite awhile. Right after I took the photo, they ran off together.
When I crawl out of bed at 5:30 am to go for a run, I sometimes, maybe often, can’t remember why I love this sport. It’s peaceful, quiet moments like this that remind me and keep me going. I stop living in my head for awhile and feel a part of everything that surrounds me.
Thanks to the artist/philosopher who left their thoughts and drawing on the pathway at Bayfront Park. I ran across this during a mid summer heat wave. Crazy humid with not a hint of a breeze. Needless to say, it was a hard run. Seeing this took my mind off of my discomfort and made the run more bearable.
Balance and proprioception are important components to any fitness program. Of course, Athletes train for agility, proprioception and balance to enhance their performance and prevent injury but we should all incorporate it into our routines. Balance training allows us to move our bodies more gracefully. Not only does it help prevent sprains and falls but it gives us confidence as we move throughout our day.
It also improves our neuromuscular communication by improving our proprioception (where our bodies are in space). Proprioceptors are found throughout our bodies in the nerve endings of our muscles, tendons and joints as well as in our inner ear. They detect and relay information regarding our movements and positions. When we move, they sense changes in our surroundings and help us adjust our bodies using our balance and agility. We are able to jump up onto a curb quickly when running to stabilize ourselves. If we hit a patch of ice while walking we are more able to prevent a fall. We can quickly adjust our centre of gravity to our movements. These receptors also create stretch reflexes in our bodies to protect us when there is too much force or stretch on a tendon, thus preventing injury.
Try yoga or Tai Chi to improve balance and proprioception. Do your weight training on a stability ball or BOSU instead of a bench. Try standing on one leg to do your bicep curls. Do a one leg, bent over row. Train your core for a strong back and abdominals to enhance your balance and agility. Doing new activities will help your body create new patterns of movement memory. Try a dance or Zoomba class or a new sport like soccer or tennis. Challenge your brain as well as your body!
Our balance declines with age, making us more cautious and unsure of ourselves in day to day movements. This can be avoided with just a bit of practice. Here are just a couple of beginner exercises.
If your balance is challenged, try standing beside a chair with one hand hovering above the back of the chair, just in case you need to stabilize yourself. Standing tall with postural awareness, lift your right foot off the floor, and hold this as long as you can. Try the left side now. To advance this movement, lift your leg and then close your eyes.
Walk heel to toe. Step forward with your right foot and then bring your left foot forward and place your heel against the toes of your right foot. Continue to walk taking small steps forward, touching your heels to your toes as you go. If your balance is very challenged leave a space between the toe and the heel, not quite touching, for a wider base of support. Also, do this by a wall, allowing you to reach out to catch yourself if you are tippy.