“I don’t need to exercise, I run around all day.” Wouldn’t it be great if that were enough? Unfortunately, although most people might consider themselves quite active at work and during their daily activities, seldom do they actually get the right amount and type of exercise.
Don’t get me wrong; it is a wonderful thing to be active every day. The more active you are, the more calories you will burn. Also, being active (as opposed to sitting at a desk or on the couch all day) can help improve your posture and lower your chances of experiencing neck, shoulder and back pain.
However, in order to be at your best, you really need structured exercise that includes cardiovascular or aerobic training, strength training and stretching on three or more days a week.
Imagine yourself training to be in a marathon. You would not simply go about your business as usual and then show up on race day expecting to run 26 miles. You would begin months before, with a training regimen so that running all those miles is much easier than if you had not trained.
Running marathons might not be your cup of tea, but in reality each of us is in “training” for a very special event called “life.” In life, we will have to walk from here to there, lift things and reach overhead to accomplish all the tasks we take on every day. If we train for these “events” they become that much easier to do.
For instance, you may find that you are out of breath when you walk or climb stairs as you go to work, go shopping or even just around the house. This is an indication that your cardiovascular system needs some training. If you practice this task, by walking 30 to 60 minutes a day for three or more days per week, you will find that you don’t tire as easily and that you breath much better.
The same holds true for your level of strength. Activities that can be difficult if you don’t have enough strength include picking up your children/grandchildren/nieces/nephews, moving furniture to clean, hauling big rocks or piles of dirt while gardening, and carrying grocery bags. Performing strength training several times a week will make those tasks seem much easier than they used to.
Adding a stretching program, such as yoga or simple static stretches, will round out the entire package. Stretching keeps your joints healthy and helps to prevent injuries such as torn muscles and back pain.
Now that you know how to train for the events in your life, get out the calendar and start scheduling some time to make it happen!
By Dr. Jennifer Wetmore (copyright 2006)