They say that people are creatures of habit. Most of us spend the majority of our day-to-day life doing fairly repetitive and ritualistic actions with our jobs or home life. We like to get in a groove where we can go on “autopilot” just to get through the day. This also tends to hold true for our exercise routines and daily activities. Someone starts doing yoga, they become hooked, and 20 years later they’re still doing yoga. That’s great! The same goes for runners with running, lifters with lifting, etc. – But do you balance your exercise?
Yoga is fantastic at developing balance and mobility. Running and biking are excellent for cardiovascular health. Resistance training (lifting) is great for building strength. All of these versions of exercise are great in their own way but how many runners and yogis are really strong from top to bottom? How many runners and lifters are mobile with great balance? How many lifters and yogis have great endurance?
Our bodies are incredibly complex, and there are so many different systems that we stimulate on a day-to-day basis to maintain physical health. Pigeonholing yourself into one mode of exercise doesn’t allow you to stimulate each of these systems appropriately, and that will eventually catch up to you in the form of an injury or decline in performance or function. In other words, you need to do what you don’t do… you need to balance your exercise. Runners need to lift, lifters need to stretch, and yogis need to build their endurance, and so on. This applies to any version of exercise/activity/sport – if you only do that one activity, you’re missing something.
How do you balance your exercise?
This doesn’t mean that a runner/yogi needs to start spending four days a week lifting weights, but a resistance training session focusing on large movements two times a week (as long as you properly progress your exercises) can go a long way. Some examples of large movements include squats, hip hinging, lunging, arm pressing, and arm rowing. No matter what activity or exercise you do for fun, the average person should be doing some resistance training on a weekly basis.
For activities that lack an emphasis on mobility (like running/biking and lifting), a 5-10 minute warm-up can be worked in to address any mobility needs. A proper warm-up should include some dynamic stretching (information and examples on that here). If you are a particularly tight or stiff person, it would be a good idea to dedicate one of your off days to just mobility work.
For those of you who need more cardiovascular training (which is most of us), getting your heart rate up at the beginning or end of a class or lifting session can help a lot. Interval training is a highly efficient way to build up cardiovascular capacity. Interval training involves alternating between set time periods of higher effort and lower effort movements, like running for one minute and walking for one minute. Here are some examples, but be aware that these are higher interval workouts, so adjust them to your fitness level. Exercise complexes are also an interesting way to challenge your cardiovascular system. Simply pick 4-6 big exercises and perform them with minimal to no rest – you’ll get tired, I promise. An example would be doing 10 squats, 10 push ups, 10 lunges (each leg), 10 jumping jacks, and 10 step ups repeatedly for 5 total sets or over a 10-15 minute span of time.
If nothing else, this article should show that physical fitness entails many different facets, and that’s why it’s important to balance your exercise. There’s nothing wrong with trying to focus on a certain aspect of your health, but making sure that you don’t ignore the other aspects is equally important. So do what you don’t do, so you can continue to do what you do do.
Got questions? Feel limited in what you’re able to do? The staff at Limitless Physical Therapy in Eugene, OR can show you how to be limitless.
***The above information, including text, images, and all other materials, is provided for educational purposes only, and not as a replacement or supplement to professional medical advice. Please contact a certified healthcare professional or your primary physician for any personal concerns.