It has been well over 40 years (now that I think about it, it’s probably 45) that I have been interested in physical fitness. Being physical came natural to me and I was always curious about how the body worked and how to make improvements. My initial intrigue in how the body responded to exercise came from my love of basketball when I was about 10. I would work on all sorts of specific drills to improve my performance and discovered that those drills not only helped with my skill set, but also improved my strength and fitness. It’s been four and a half decades and I still enjoy exercising and learning as much as I can but hey, it’s not for everyone.
Most folks know the value of what consistent and safe exercise can provide, but few actually get out there and do it. As I mentioned in my previous post, you only need to dedicate about 1% of your time each week to improve your strength and fitness, but not everyone shares the same enthusiasm as I do and may need a little “nudge” to get going. I had an interesting conversation with an older, female client yesterday. Being a gentleman, I never asked her age but I know she is in her early 70’s (you would never know it by the amount of things she does in a week) and she trains three times a week with me for 30 minutes (she used to come in twice but upped her sessions because she felt better with more activity). She drives 45 minutes each way and gives 110% effort every single time. Yesterday I said to her that I still can’t figure out why people would not engage in physical activity when they know how good it was for them. I mentioned that if people were to just start they’d feel the benefits immediately and she agreed. She stated that one of the important aspects for her was having an appointment. A valid point since most people won’t make time on their own to exercise, but having accountability to herself as well as to me contributes to her success in coming in three times a week….religiously.
I do some of my best thinking when I’m out cycling and just the other morning, I was thinking about how little of an amount of time is needed to improve one’s health and fitness. As I was heading into my final minutes of my 60 minute ride along the shore, I started to do a little quick math. As we all know there are 52 weeks in a year, seven days in a week, 24 hours in each day giving us 1,440 minutes per day. Multiply those minutes over seven days and there are 10,080 minutes each week and 524,160 minutes for one full year. Now, if you were to dedicate roughly 100 minutes each week….a mere 1% of your time to performing some form of exercise that stimulates your muscles, heart and lungs then you would certainly be able to see improvement in your health and fitness. Now here’s the cool part, you can spread those 100 minutes of exercise over the week by performing some type of strength and aerobic activities over two, three or more days, mixing and matching strength and cardio or dedicating specific days for each. Hell, you can even break them up and do one activity in the morning and the other in the evening. The choices are unlimited. So, maybe start off with one half of one percent (50 minutes each week) and see how it goes and build up from there.
If you read any of my writings, you will know how important I think daily movement is….particularly when it focuses on aerobic activity. The trendy folks today (and some of those stuck on old credos from the 70’s) don’t think that direct aerobic activity is necessary. Well, I’d like to say that I respectfully disagree. Aerobic exercise is vital to your overall health as explained in this recent researched article . Raising your heart rate is the key component to improving your fitness, but how you do it is also important. Without getting too deep into details here, breathing heavy doesn’t necessarily mean your heart rate is elevated….at least not to the level you may think it is. That panting you may experience after a hard anaerobic (without oxygen) effort is the body trying to supply oxygen to the working muscles. Plus, the left ventricle of the heart improves in strength and efficiency. Now, I’m not implying that strength training under isn’t important. Under the right conditions, proper strength training (and other forms of anaerobic exercise) provides tremendous benefits and is one piece of the puzzle in achieving better health and fitness, but don’t be fooled for one minute that you don’t need to improve your aerobic system through direct activity because you do.
I love to stay active. I find that being active daily makes me feel better than when I do nothing physical so for me, it makes sense to do something as often as I can. As I’ve gotten a bit older and have been physically active well over 40 years now, I’ve gotten a bit smarter (not much, just a bit) and look for activities that are fun, physically stimulating (challenges my heart, lungs, muscles, functionality, balance) and are safe for me to do. Safe in that I limit the downside of injury while I’m performing an activity as well as how it will effect me in the long run (just because something doesn’t bother you while you’re doing it doesn’t mean it won’t later in the short term or long term).
For years now I have been an avid cyclist. I have a few bikes to my name and depending on my mood, desired effect, weather and some other factors, I will opt for a particular bike to use for a particular stimulus. Without getting into too many boring details, suffice it to say that I have a variety of bikes that give me a variety of benefits and so I have utilized these bikes to recreate and enhance my fitness. See, most folks think that improving your cardiovascular system, body composition, mobility, blood pressure, etc. is relegated to the gym. It’s not. You don’t need a special aerobic program to get fit. You don’t need to have a machine tell you when to go faster or to slow down, go up a hill or down a hill because when you are out recreating, you are doing all that inherently.
I could go on here but I’ll just get down to the take home message: get out, expand your options, your mind and your lungs. Go for a walk, bike ride, jog, hike, play volleyball, etc. outside and enjoy the many benefits of recreational activity. I promise you it’s a lot less boring and has many more advantages.
I value each and every one of my clients and do my best to give them the very best I have to give – day in and day out. It’s not always easy, but it’s something I work hard at and value tremendously and it is reflected in my work. I know my clients appreciate the effort I make with them as sit shows in their commitment and dedication to themselves as well as me. I can proudly say that I have maintained many clients well over a decade – in fact, having some still with me since opening my doors in 2003. It may appear that I may be tooting my own horn here, but those who know me know I am a modest person and my mentioning of this is because it gives me great pleasure to know that I can have a positive impact on those who entrust their health with me.
As an older and (hopefully) wiser fitness professional, I don’t get caught up in all of today’s trendy health and fitness escapades. Daily I read about “the latest and greatest” convoluted approach to fitness and I just shake my head in disbelief. It’s amazing as well as saddening that today’s fitness culture has lost its way. It appears that workouts and trainers are focused more on entertainment than actually improving ones health and fitness levels. I’m not saying that all that’s out there in today’s fitness world is bad, but as a whole, a persons individual needs, abilities, goals, commitment, drive and most importantly, safety are rarely taken into consideration. That’s something everyone should consider when they are taking advice from the latest self-anointed guru with a new trick up his/her sleeve.
I know this seems counter intuitive to most, but the law (and safety experts) require cyclists and runners (and even pedestrians) to be on the right side of the road – meaning you ride (run, walk) with traffic, not against. I am confronted all too often with people who are riding or running against traffic which then forces me off the shoulder of the raod and into traffic lanes. An all too dangerous scenario, especially at higher speeds. This post comes at a time when a client of mine was recently struck on his bike (fortunately he suffered only a broken wrist) by a motorist who cut him off to grab a parking spot. I myself had someone do the same thing to me this weekend as she decided hanging a U-turn over double yellow lines and cut me off as I was going 20MPH all so she could get that special space near the boardwalk. So, if you are out recreating, please know the rules of the road. Motorists, as I suggested in an earlier post, please be observant of those not in cars. That parking space will wait. You just may save a life.
It’s amusing to see so many daily articles on the Internet stating what the “BEST” exercise/diet/cardio program etc. there is for losing weight, improving cardio, building bigger biceps, toning your core, getting rid of back pain, etc., etc. Nothing is ever the best for everyone, plain and simple and here’s the first, and in my opinion, the most important reason why.
When it comes to “the best”, you have to consider a few variables. At the top of the list is safety. Not only safety of the exercise itself but also the application of that exercise for each individual. For instance, the bodyweight squat is a wonderful exercise that builds strength in the legs, hips and core as well as provides improved mobility in the ankles, knees and hips. And when performed to muscular fatigue, it will provide significant cardiovascular stimulation. But not everyone can perform this exercise properly due to mechanical reasons or they just can’t grasp the movement and therefore, it is not a safe option for them because they can incur an injury or further along an already bad situation. On the other hand, some people can execute this movement flawlessly, but the end result for them may be something that causes a problem due to a previous issue or it invokes some discomfort in a joint that previously wasn’t there as an example.
So really, the take home message is this: not every recommendation of the BEST has a universal application to it. Proper guidance and coaching, along with common sense and not blindly following a suggestion is probably a good start in to finding what’s BEST for you.
I have a buddy of mine who literally is busy 14+ hours a day, Monday through Friday. He is looking to get stronger and in better overall health and doesn’t have the time to get to a gym. Respecting that he doesn’t want to take the easy way out and use his constrained schedule as an excuse, I am advising the following for him or anyone else with limited time.
Every day he will perform 5 minutes of one specific exercise. I recommend he perform these exercises in the morning so he isn’t too tired or distracted at the end of the day, this way he is assured to have gotten in his workout. His goal is to be progressive each work out, i.e., looking to do better than last time. The approach is simple: he will do as many reps as he can in good form, rest long enough to “almost recover” and then do more reps. He will repeat this process until 5 minutes has transpired. He will total up all his reps (or time) and notate his performance. Notation: A goal can be to perform more reps/time for the first set compared to that of the previous workout OR shoot for a higher total number of reps/time for the 5 minute period. Either way, progression and accurate record keeping are important. To reiterate, 1 exercise per day for 5 minutes. He will rotate through these exercises every 4 days. These are the 4 movements, done in this order: