Tired of the same old exercise? Well, so are your muscles. Among the many common misconceptions about exercise is ‘routine exercise’ – that performing the same, strict physical work-out each week will encourage those cheese-grater abs to appear … and that’s where we’re wrong.
The physical benefits
In order for muscles to be effectively stimulated, they must be ‘shocked’ into operating as your body requires. In sports such as swimming or running, muscles accelerate us forward; in weight-lifting, our muscles work to lift and sustain the weight of heavy objects. A combination of several different activities utilises several different muscle groups, enhancing both your workout and your physical results.
The type and benefits of physical activities can be generally categorised as those designed to improve the performance of the heart and respiratory system, such as running and aerobics, and those which work to improve muscle strength, stability and flexibility, such as weight-training, Pilates and yoga.
Exercising your interest
What needs to be addressed when your motivation to exercise is low are the mental benefits of exercise and how these can be enhanced with variety. To ensure a well-rounded – and interesting – exercise regime, do a variety of cardio, strength and flexibility activities.
Oftentimes, inspiring motivation to exercise can be as simple as alternating your weekly physical activities to introduce fresh challenges and scenery – stimuli for your body and your mind and good for distracting you from the sometimes arduous task at hand.
Start by working out how many hours you are able to put aside for physical activity each week. Write a list of the exercises that you feel you will both enjoy and benefit from the most – especially those you’ve never tried – and designate one hour for each, making sure they engage several different muscle groups. Try to incorporate both upper and lower body exercises in each session.
Feel free to alternate your program each week, performing more of the activities that you enjoy the most and those you feel are your weakest. Most people leave out abdominals and pelvic floor work or save them until last. Yet these areas help ensure both longevity and vitality – keep this in mind and try to embrace them.
If you are aiming to strengthen or improve a specific muscle group such as the quadriceps and hamstrings, most of your exercise should engage the legs; this could mean alternating between running, walking and/or cycling. Likewise, if weight-loss is your main objective, your program should appear similar; because legs hold the biggest of our muscle groups, they expend the largest amount of energy while exercising.
Running, The mental benefits
Regularly revitalising your exercise regime can dramatically improve your attitude towards fitness, which significantly improves the likelihood of greater and longer-lasting fitness.
It is essential for any physical exercise regime to offer various stimuli for mind and body; studies show that visual inspiration increases both the length and in some cases, the intensity, of the activity being undertaken.
Inviting friends to join you will not only provide further motivation, but will offer a chance to catch up while doing something healthy. Walking and talking are both mentally and physically stimulating and working together towards a fitness goal will not only help to sustain your fitness schedule, but may stimulate your competitive edge.
But how will I fit it in?!
Not all exercise has to be deliberate. ‘Accidental exercise’ are those five minute brisk walks to the bus stop every morning, the set of stairs you climb on your way to the office, or having a great night out dancing with friends. Most health professionals recommend approximately three hours of exercise daily – luckily, this includes accidental exercise of which you may be unaware.
Pole dancing is a recent fitness fad that brings all elements into play – not only is it good for cardio health, strength and flexibility but it’s fun, social, and provides lots of visual stimuli! On average, an hour of pole dancing burns a whopping 1500 kilojoules – enough to burn off four Mars bars.
Most of us are pressed for time and making time to exercise can often seem impossible. But we choose to spend our time doing things that we prioritise – the difference between an exerciser and a non-exerciser is simply different priorities.
Rather than prioritising regular, tough and familiar exercise activities, introducing variety, different stimuli, and fun to exercise increases its effectiveness – and your enjoyment.
Wynyard Chiropractic recommends fitness specialist Shane Da Costa. You can reach Shane on 0428 IAM FIT (0428 426 348) or via email or check out his website.