By Nicole DePalma MS, LMT Welcome to 2021! So many folks are thinking of, or have started some type of fitness program at the New Year, and some folks have been enjoying some type of workout activity …
By Nicole DePalma MS, LMT
Welcome to 2021! So many folks are thinking of, or have started some type of fitness program at the New Year, and some folks have been enjoying some type of workout activity for years. No matter where you fit on the spectrum, a good wellness routine really needs three components to it to create overall health and wellbeing for you.
Let’s discuss each of the three items on this list, why they’re important, and some ideas of how to incorporate these items into a routine. We’re going to speak to cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and range of motion training… kind of “big words”, but each will make sense in just a bit.
First of all, cardiovascular training involves the heart and the vascular system. In a nutshell, this is the type of training we undertake to strengthen the heart, arteries, and veins so they work more efficiently. This means a healthy heart, lowered blood pressure (if normally too high), arteries that can effectively deliver more oxygen to the body, and veins that can return “used blood” back to the heart with elasticity and strength. This means that we need to raise the heart and breath rate up to strengthen the heart muscle. Think brisk walking, jogging, running, bicycling, cardio fitness classes, stair climbing, and you get the picture. Now, if none of the things I just listed sound like fun, let alone interesting to try, no worries! If you haven’t been, really its all about getting up and moving enough to feel your heart rate rising, your breath getting deeper, and maybe even a little sweat showing up on your brow. An active Yoga or Mat Pilates class with do that nicely, or climbing the stairs of your home a few times, gardening, house work, and walking your dog will get you on your way to getting heart healthy. There are so many online classes to try, or Zoom sessions or You-Tube videos to check out that can give you ideas of cardio activities to try out that you might not have thought of before. We need a “happy heart” to keep us really feeling good well into old age.
If cardiovascular training strengthens the heart and vessels, then musculoskeletal training gets the muscles, tendons, ligaments and skeleton “tuned up”. Sometimes referred to as “weight training”, musculoskeletal training challenges the muscles, soft tissue, and the skeleton to improve in strength, endurance, power, and bone density. You don’t need a rack of weights or huge machines in your home to get a quality workout in this area. Moving your own weight in such exercises as lunges, squats, situps, push-up, etc. are very effective and can be accomplished without any type of prop. Again, none of these activities may appeal to you. So how about Tai Chi, Chi Gong, Pilates Reformer or other Pilates equipment, free weights, or exercise bands to get a little resistance work going to get muscles fired up? Cardiovascular and musculoskeletal training is the work that is going to change your body composition over from adipose, or fat tissue to that lean, fat burning tissue that keeps us moving with less pain, and more energy.
Finally, we need to talk about stretching, or flexibility. This type of training is the nuts and bolts of quality of life as we age. Flexibility is what allows us to reach up to that high shelf in the cupboard, or to bend down to pick up something we dropped on the floor. Stretching is what will let our necks turn to look behind us when we back out the car from the driveway, or opens up our shoulder girdle so we can scratch that itch in the middle of our back. A stiff, inflexible body will age us quickly, and prevent us from everyday activity. This is what can take the joy out of life with poor posture and aching backs and joints. If you haven’t stretched in awhile, try moving your spine within reason, rotating it, or moving it from side to side. A supple spine is the key to a supple body, so starting to increase the range of motion of the spine is always a great way to start a stretching routine.
Well, there it is…strengthening the heart, muscles, and stretching is the secret to building a fitness program that will give you a total body workout. Your healthcare provider should always be consulted whenever starting a new exercise, using good common sense will guide you on pushing yourself for a bit more work when needed, or by learning how to “back off” when a workout seems to be getting a little too tough. Besides making sure that all three of these components are included in your workout, perhaps the most important element to bring to your workout is consistency. Consistency will help your body to adapt to the new work and movements you’re asking of it, and consistency is where you’ll see steady improvement in your work, avoid soreness, and meet any goals you’ve given yourself along the way. And remember, as the saying goes, “The longest journey begins with the first step.”. Step by step, your body will thank you for taking care of it, and keeping it well. Cheers.