Hello everyone, I hope you had a wonderful summer and that the weather has cooled off so you can start walking outside again if you are blessed to be able to do so. In my travels, one of the things I am asked most often is, “Which exercise is best for me?” Now this is an almost impossible question to answer without working with a person one on one. And certainly a doctor would need to be involved to lend their expertise to the equation.
So rather than looking at the question, “What exercises should I do?”, it is better to address the question in another way; “What should the exercises I do, include?” This way, no matter what exercises you choose to do, if you know what should be included, you can then add or subtract the activities you need, and enjoy a greater freedom of choices. This is actually much easier than you think.
Here are the three things all successful and complete exercise routines need:
- Exercise that takes care of your HEART.
- Exercise that takes care of your STRENGTH.
- Exercise that takes care of your FLEXIBILITY (or lengthening the muscles).
Here is the Wizards Exercise Triangle to explain:
I teach in my classes, which have included large company employee groups, high school and elementary kids, the fire department, etc, this very same thing. I tell them if you can’t pick it up you can’t do it (Strength), if you can’t reach it you can’t do it (Lengthen or Stretch), and if your heart can’t take it you can’t do it (Heart). So Stretch, Strengthen, and take care of the Heart.
So to exercise successfully and take care of what the body needs to do physically, all three of these elements should be present each time you exercise. An example of exercises that include all three elements would be:
Yoga, Pilates, many martial arts, a number of DVDs as well as good classes.
With the above exercises, your choices have been made for you and you are able to get a solid heart or cardio workout, with lots of strengthening and stretching. However, what if these exercises are not best for you? I am the Amazing Modest Wizard of Youth, and I don’t do these particular exercises- so what do I do? What should you do? The answer is simple:
NO MATTER WHAT EXERCISE YOU CHOOSE: Make sure all three elements are included, and if they’re not- add them!
What if I like to walk? Okay, what does walking do? It takes care of your heart. And it strengthens the legs. However it doesn’t include stretching, so stretch your muscles after you’re done and you have now helped make walking a complete exercise. You may have been involved in a walking group that stretched sometime during the walk- and you may have been told it’s good to warm up your muscles. While that’s true, stretching also keeps your muscles loose.
What if you like to garden? Well that depends on your efforts. If you’re doing an all out planting, or weeding, or harvesting session; that covers everything and would be enough. You’d get a great heart workout, you’d stretch everything, and you’d certainly tire out your muscles. However if you’re a gentle gardener, add some stretches while you’re gardening, stand up and sit ten or twenty times in a row to strengthen your legs, and then maybe a few minutes stepping side to side to get your heart rate up to include all three elements. Can you see the pattern?
Where we get in trouble is when we don’t include all three of these elements, at least regularly. For example: We get in trouble with walking when we don’t stretch our legs, and so we can end up with short and small steps. And we can get in trouble when we don’t strengthen our back muscles, so if we are regular walkers, we can end up with strong legs and yet have these rounded over and weak backs. Simply put, when we don’t include all three elements, we increase our risk of failure! (You should be taking care of your heart hopefully every day, and including simple stretching in with your routines at least three days a week, and strengthening the muscles at least twice a week.)
So please do what you love, and make sure these activities includes taking care of your heart, your strength, and your flexibility! For your information, most people don’t include the flexibility component to their exercise routines, and they end up very stiff later in life. If I was to summarize that into a conclusion, I would say when you’re younger , Strength is more important, and when you’re older, Stretching is more important. Yet you still need both! (Check in with your medical professional first.) Blessings from the Wizard!
John Paul Ouvrier, known as The Wizard of Youth, is a fitness trainer who specializes in working with older adults. Please consult with your doctor or medical professional before beginning this or any exercise program or advice. The contents of this article do not constitute medical advice. Contact him at John@wizardofyouth.com, and bring him in to entertain your audiences! http://wizardofyouth.com and http://fitness4charity.org