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So by now you should be:
- Breaking up your periods of sitting/ making your workspace more movement friendly.
- Finding ways to move more throughout the day.
Important: These are two things that need to be done independent of regular exercise. It is well established that sitting too much (> 6hours/ day) is harmful in its own right, even if you exercise on top of that.
Now it’s almost time to start talking exercise but first we need two clarify two points:
1) Health Vs Performance?
This is an article about training for health. There is a big difference between training for performance vs training for health. Athletes push their bodies to the limits to pursue very specific parameters of physical performance. This is not always healthful. It may be surprising but professional athletes are often not the pinnacle of health many assume. The volume and intensity of training needed for top level performance comes at a cost. It is important to recognize this and to not confuse performance training vs training for health. This article will be focused on the latter.
2) Are you Ready?
Before you start a more rigorous exercise plan you should make sure you are not at an increased risk for injury, particularly if you have had an injury in the past. The three biggest risk factors for injury are:
- A history of previous injury.
- Right to left asymmetries.
- Deficiencies in how you stabilize and control movement.
Obviously there is nothing you can do to turn back time if you have already suffered an injury but asymmetries and stability deficits are largely improvable.
Two quick and easy screening tests looking at both your stability and symmetry are the ‘Single Leg Balance Test’ and the ‘Side Plank Endurance Test’.
Single Leg Balance
- Stand with your feet together, toes pointing forwards and arms crossed.
- Lift one knee to hip height and hold the position for 10 seconds if you can.
- Next, if able to, close your eyes. Hold for a further 10 seconds on the same leg.
- If you move your standing foot, place a leg down or uncross your arms stop counting and make a note of the time.
- You can have up to two attempts each side.
- Less than 10 seconds eyes open or eyes closed, or a difference from side to side indicates dysfunction.
Side Plank Endurance Test
- Lift your hips from the floor into until your spine is straight (as shown) and start the timer.
- Hold this position for as long as possible with good form – if your hips start to drop or the spine twists stop the timer.
- Compare the times; a side to side difference of greater than 5% or a total time of less than 45 seconds is dysfunctional.
If these tests indicated a problem, or you are unsure whether you are ready to start an exercise plan, why not come in for a free, no obligation Initial Consultation to discuss what you can do.
Back to Exercise…
Health related training can follow many forms. But should include the following:
- Natural human movements (squatting, lunging, etc. not just sitting at a chest press machine – you do enough sitting already!)
- Incorporate different aspects of fitness; strength, agility, flexibility, endurance
- Be something you enjoy doing
That’s not to say these all have to be part of every workout but they should be incorporated somewhere in your overall exercise plan. Running, sprinting, sports, resistance training, yoga would all suitable options as part of that overall plan. But here are some other great alternatives you may not have been aware of:
MovNat is “a physical education & fitness system based on the full range of natural human movement abilities. These include the locomotive skills of walking, running, jumping, balancing, crawling, climbing & swimming”. You can find out more about MovNat here.
Gymnastic training combines strength, flexibility, power and stability. Coach Summer has been a developmental Team USA Coach nearly 40 years and has now produced a step by step online training program for a range of abilities. Find out more about Gymnastic Bodies here.
How Much? How Long? How Often?
This is variable but Dan Pardi’s recommendations are a good starting point. Aim for:
- 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise / week e.g jogging, yoga, dancing.
- Or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise / week e.g. sports or aerobics class.
- Or 30 sets of high intensity exercise / week e.g. resistance training or sprints.
- Or a combination of the three.
Reproduced from Liebenson. C., Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies