Why exercise ∞
Exercise has important health benefits for everyone regardless of age and physical condition. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight. Movement, no matter how small, can help.
- A more efficient heart
- Weight loss
- Improved mental health
- Improved immune system
- Disease reduction
- Increased life span
- Increased stamina
Improved muscle health - This can lessen pain in those who have chronic muscle pains, fibromyalgia and chronic low back pain.
Hate the thought of exercise? Think instead of activity. Most activities and exercises that get you moving and put your joints through their range of motion are helpful. Dance, walk, etc. Invite a friend along to make it more pleasurable. If you can exercise with a companion you are more likely to continue with the program.
Before begining your exercise program, you might want to consult your doctor. If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you should definitely consult your doctor:
- Are you a male 40 or older or a female 50 or older?
- Do you have cardiovascular disease?
- Has anyone in your family died of cardiovascular disease before age 50?
- Have you ever had a heart attack?
- Do you have high blood pressure?
- Do you have diabetes?
- Do you take medications for a chronic condition?
- Have you been on a medication or special diet to lower cholesterol?
- Do you smoke?
- Do you have emphysema, asthma, allergies or any other lung conditions?
- Do you have any chronic disease?
- Do you have a condition (such as arthritis) that limits your flexibility, strength or endurance?
- Are you pregnant?
- Do you have any condition that would be aggravated by exercise?
Have you been told not to exercise?
Plan your program ∞
Don't make mistakes. Here are the six most common workout mistakes:
- Not drinking enough water.
- Exercising with bad form.
- Not focusing on the muscles you're using.
- Repeating the same workout.
- Not resting each body part 48 hours before exercising again.
Not balancing muscle groups (concentrating on show-off muscles).
Make a schedule ∞
- 3 to 5 times a week
- 20 to 30 minutes
- At an intensity level of 50 percent to 80 percent of your capacity.
- Plan a gradual prgression.
- Start at a comfortable level.
- Exercise regularly.
- Include variety.
- Warm up 5 to 10 minutes.
Schedule rest/recovery time.
Be flexible, can't do your regular workout? Try:
- Parking your car at the far end of the parking lot or walk to the office.
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Placing a treadmill in front of the television .
Read while you ride the stationary bicycle.
Types of exercise ∞
- Water workouts
involve movements in water, causing very little joint stress and are excellent for older people.
- Low impact exercise
include bicycling (including stationary and recumbent), cross-country skiing or using cross-country ski simulators, stairclimbers, elliptical trainers and snowshoeing.
- Yoga and tai chi
are designed to promote flexibility, improve balance and increase strength.
even if you need a cane or walker. Start slowly and build up gradually. Wear supportive walking shoes and replace them often.
- Aerobic exercise
is about as close as you can get to a "magic potion." It can help you lose weight, ease stress, boost your immune system and reduce the risk of certain diseases. Aerobic means "living in air," and when linked with exercise, refers to any activity that increases oxygen intake and heart rate. Examples of aerobic exercises include running, walking, cycling, swimming, cross-country skiing and aerobic exercise classes.
- Weight training
is not just for body builders and athletes. The best brace you can give yourself is your "muscle" brace, and the stronger the muscles are around your joints, the more they will help to take pressure off the cartilage and bone. It can include free weights, machines, elastic tubing, water exercise and household items such as milk jugs and soup cans.
- Power Training
The ability to move a heavy object quickly. This is achieved by training with medium weights in specific skills at high speed. Power training is generally done by professional athletes to increase performance in power movements like pitching.
- Muscle Endurance Training
This is commonly confused with aerobic exercise. It is the ability to move objects for long periods of time. This is achieved by training with little or no weight for high repetitions. If done at a reasonably quick pace, cardiovascular fitness will be achieved, and you will be performing aerobics.
- Strength Training
The ability to move a heavy object with one voluntary muscle contraction, regardless of time. This is achieved by training with heavier weights and low to medium repetitions. Since this type builds muscle bulk, it is most often done by the weightlifter, hoping to achieve a Mr. Olympus body. Unfortunately, most inexperienced bodybuilders train improperly, sacrificing time and effort for little gain, while risking injury.
During exercise ∞
Listen to your body - Be aware during and after workouts of signs that you may be encountering a health problem as a result of overexertion. If you feel pain don't force a motion. If your muscles ache for more than an hour or two after your workout then cut back. You always can add more exercise to your next workout, but you can't take back the effects of exercise when you've overdone it. And be sure to get enough rest and give your body time to recover.
Adapt your schedule as you exercise - Fine tune the intensity and duration of exercise you've scheduled.
Avoid excess repetitive movements - These can cause overuse injury, boredom and high drop-out rates. Problems can develop when a particular exercise is done to excess or is your sole form of exercise.
After exercise ∞
- Keep records and reassess your program and schedule.
You may experience some initial muscle soreness that occurs when you begin a new exercise program or perform activities that are new to you. If this soreness worsens despite rest from the activity, is associated with any joint swelling, or persists unchanged for more than 2 to 4 days, see your doctor.
Important guidelines for weight lifting ∞
These guidelines are basic, and are meant only as an introduction to weightlifting. Inexperienced lifters should have at least some basic information before undertaking this kind of training. And more experienced lifters should think more about the exercises they are performing, rather than just doing a standard workout. When in doubt seek the advice of an expert, and remember: True gains only come through hard work.
- Muscles grow during rest.
- If no time is given for muscle recovery, no gains will be made. In other words, train no more than two to three times per week, leaving 48 hours between workouts for full muscle recovery. Working the lower body one day and the upper body the next does not allow for full recovery. Although it may seem like the lower body has a day of rest, the body is expending energy to work the upper body, leaving no energy to build the lower body. Therefore the full body should be done in each workout.
If done properly, a muscle can be fully fatigued with only one set. This means the full body can be done in about twenty sets.
Perform eight to twelve reps for the upper body, and fifteen to twenty for the lower, to achieve maximum muscle growth. Higher reps train for endurance, and lower reps for strength.
- Work the larger muscle groups first then the smaller.
The general order is, quads, hamstrings, calves, upper/lower abdominals, the lower back, shoulders, chest, back, arms, forearms, neck. If you work the smaller groups first, the larger muscles will not be worked hard enough. The small muscles will fatigue first, and the maximum number of reps will not be reached.
should be two seconds for lifting/pushing (positive phase), pause [for how long?] at maximal contraction, and four seconds for the return (negative) phase. Muscle fatigue occurs more during the negative phase, so accentuate that aspect, and when in doubt go slower. Also, moving faster increases your chances of injury, especially tearing a muscle or ligament.
- Eat well.
Avoid animal products, processed foods, salt, sugar, and white flour. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Use single jointed exercises
rather than double/triple jointed. For example, leg extension is a single jointed exercise for the knee. Whereas, leg press is a triple jointed exercise utilizing the hip, knee, and ankle. Single jointed exercises isolate muscles better.
- Train symmetrically.
For example, if you train your biceps you must train the opposite movement muscles, the triceps. Imbalanced workouts lead to injury. Try, when possible to train each side of the body separately, otherwise the stronger side will do about 70% more work, making it even stronger.
A proper warm-up would consist of contracting a muscle, and moving it slowly in the motion of an exercise, just prior to performing it. It is not necessary to stretch-out. Passive stretching can actually weaken the muscles, by tearing them. A short (five minute) aerobic exercise (bike riding) immediately after working out is a great way to cool down, and get in some cardiovascular fitness.
- Get regular chiropractic treatment.
An improperly aligned spine will cause improper movements, hampering progress, and leaving you prone to injury.
- Avoid exercises that are prone to injury.
The most dangerous ones are: Exercises that require overhead lifting, placing the shoulder in an unstable position with weight on top of it. And exercises that rotate the waist when the waist is bent, leaving the lumbar discs unprotected against herniation.
- Move the weight through the full range of motion.
If you only lower a weight half way, you only gain strength through half a motion, accentuating the already strong part of the movement, slowing gains, and inviting injury.
Always try to increase the number of reps or amount of weight, or both. But, never sacrifice form to increase either. Proper form isolates specific muscles for fuller muscle fatigue and helps prevent injury. When the desired number of reps is reached, increase the weight by five percent. If less than the number of desired reps is performed, decrease the weight by five to ten percent.
- Try to move from one exercise to the next with minimal rest.
Try to inhale when moving the weight toward the heart, and exhale when moving away from the heart, but in any case breathe, your muscles need the oxygen.
Advanced weight training ∞
- Breakdown training
When you've reached your maximum number of reps, drop the weight by ten percent and perform four more reps. Allow no rest time. This fully fatigues the muscle.
- Negative training
Probably the most effective type of training, but requires a partner. The lifting phase is assisted, and the lowering phase is done extremely slow, usually 30 seconds. Only one rep needs to be done, as this is a very intensive exercise.
Performing two sets of one exercise with no rest period in between. (Three sets or more, trains for endurance.)