YOUR BODY – RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

YOUR BODY – RULES OF ENGAGEMENTIt always amazed me how my father, come rain or shine, three days a week, would go jogging with his work cronies. I asked him once why he loved jogging so much. He reminded me that when he was younger he spent his workout time in the gym, often working just his arms or chest, because at that time in his life he put way more importance on looks and 19 inch arms.

Over the years his workouts, as his view on life, morphed into something new. He began to realize, through various injuries, that centering and stretching his body was important if he wanted to keep his bone and muscle structure strong. He took up yoga and working his stomach on a mat through various exercises that today would be called working your core.

At his age, jogging allowed him to be close to nature and breathe in fresh air, well, as fresh as New York air can be. It allowed him to bond with a group of fellows that pushed each other. It was also social. As the group of ten would pair up and talk about their lives, they became each other’s psychiatrists.

Of course there are hardcore runners out there looking to burn as many calories as possible. There are also those who could care less, or very little, about the calorie burning, but rather enjoy the quiet scenic routes and colorful characters of Central Park.

It’s important to understand the motivation behind the workout you choose. By the time my dad was 67, he needed total hip replacement. I am not claiming that anyone who takes up running will do bodily harm to themselves, but you need to be aware that your legs do take a pounding over time. Despite the fact that a good pair of running shoes is virtually the only cost, running can take its toll on the body.

FACT– While running does improve one’s cardio capacity and burn calories, it will NOT build muscle. There are alternatives out there that offer cardio, or aerobic exercise, as well as weight bearing, anaerobic exercise. There are even workouts that offer a combination of both.

SWIMMING – Due to water’s buoyancy, swimming provides you with an overall body workout, with less wear and tear on the joints and heart. It is excellent for increasing cardiovascular and lung capacity. However, not everyone knows how to swim, nor has access to a swimming pool. Also, a recent study has shown that swimming increases the appetite, and therefore swimmers are more likely to be overweight. I must admit that I am not a huge fan of rubber swim caps, as they are tight and itchy and make me feel like doing synchronized water ballet.

COMBINATION WORKOUTS – For those of us looking for both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, there are workout options that combine cardio with body shaping. Some of these workouts are pretty intense and not for the novice, but there are variations that suit every level. Workouts like PX90, cross fit, and TRX are all combination forms of anaerobic and aerobic exercise, which can increase muscle mass and reduce overall percentage of body fat while offering the cardiovascular benefits of jogging, swimming and biking.

These weight and cardio classes also hit the most important muscle area in the whole body, your core. The core muscles, located in your abdomen, are the center point connecting your upper and lower body. Most movements, such as hitting a golf ball, or picking up a baby, originate in or move through your core. Core strength enhances power, stability and balance, while lessening wear and tear on the spine, allowing you to breathe deeply. Exercises that develop core strength include the use of equipment such as a stability ball, medicine balls, kettle bells and wobble boards, as well as yoga and Pilates.

Unless you are young and have no history of medical problems, it’s important that you make sure you are healthy enough for the workout routine you have chosen. Before starting, consult your physician regarding past injuries, high blood pressure and liver function, in order to obtain a clean bill of health.

BOTTOM LINE – Review all of your fitness goals to choose the workout that fits best with you, your lifestyle and everything you want to accomplish.

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney

Good health to you all!

Michael Sherry

Michael Sherry

Michael is a creative writer and personal trainer in NYC. He has a BA in creative writing and has written for several local publications in the region.
Michael Sherry

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