An Approach to Health and Fitness in 2017
A few weeks ago, we posted a blog that suggested a way to kick start your new year through better eating. In summary, the point was to establish your individual caloric requirement then eat healthy every day through a reasonable balance of the three macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein, and fat), a reasonable caloric consumption, and a healthy level of various nutrients. This approach does not include any fad diets or extremes, but a reasonable long-term strategy for healthy eating and learning about nutrition. So how else can you kick start the year to a healthier 2017?
As we mentioned in the previous entry, no realistic amount of exercise can counter a very unhealthy diet if maintaining a healthy body weight is your goal. Nevertheless, regular exercise is important for everyone. The benefits of exercise are obvious and don’t really need to be listed here. Perhaps this blog might offer some suggestions to those who are struggling to get into a regular routine of exercise. Again, the following are just suggestions and not appropriate for everyone. Much of this information has been gained through personal experience and the personal experiences of many patients I’ve spoken with over the years. Consult with your medical doctor if you’re not sure whether a new exercise program is appropriate for your health!
Strength training is one aspect of working out. This can be done in a gym with weights but also in a park using body weighted exercises. Push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, and squats are all examples of strength training exercises and can all be done with little to no equipment.
The old idea is that resistance exercises build muscle and make you “bigger”. This isn’t necessarily the case. Resistance exercise can make us more resilient in our day to day life and help prevent injuries, as well as burn lots of calories to improve our body fat percentage (to a healthy level). The benefits are too numerous to list here, but most people should be doing some level of resistance exercise on a regular basis. If you need help with this, consult with your physiotherapist, medical doctor, chiropractor, athletic therapist or personal trainer!
Cardiovascular fitness can be achieved through any type of movement, you just have to do it at a certain intensity and duration to provide cardiovascular benefit. Walking, biking and swimming are all great examples of cardiovascular exercise. Perhaps what has become more popular in recent years is doing resistance training at an intensity that provides a cardiovascular benefit; two birds with one stone!
Flexibility is thought to be important for the prevention of injury. This is much debated; however, I believe that everyone should have enough flexibility to do the tasks that they want to do in their daily routine. My flexibility requirements would then be different from that of a gymnast. Look at your life and what you like to do and make sure your joint ranges of movement can handle those tasks.
Balance is often forgotten. I now include it in every new patient examination, especially in those over 65 years of age. Why? A slip and fall can drastically change the course of a person’s health, and having a good balance is an important aspect of fall prevention. Practice your balance daily (in a safe setting) by balancing on one foot. Over time, you may find your ability to balance improves.
Overall, I believe in a sensible approach to fitness and health that involves everything in moderation. If you love marathon running, try adding in some resistance training. Do you like bodybuilding? Make sure you also look after your heart and include some level of cardiovascular fitness!
Daily, I hear from patients that they are “getting old”. Perhaps this is why I believe in an overall picture of health and healthy aging that involves strength, cardiovascular health, flexibility, and balance. To each their own, but I think the healthiest people I meet who have lived a long time have usually not gone to extremes with their diet or their workout regime, but rather maintain a habit that involves a moderate amount of each of these areas.
Good luck with your 2017 health challenge!
Burlington Sports Therapy is located on 3455 Harvester Rd., Unit #35 in Burlington, Ontario. We have helped many clients with their physical health from Burlington, Oakville, Hamilton, and the surrounding areas.