Balanced Fitness Routine
A well balanced fitness routine should include cardiovascular exercise, strength training, flexibility and a healthy dose of restorative work to keep body, mind and soul together. Everyone has their favourite forms of exercise or sporting leisure activities, but to fully take care of your health, balance is the key. In my teens and twenties, aerobic exercise was all I was interested in; by my thirties I realized that my body desperately needed some strength training; finally, in my forties, I discovered the transformational powers of yoga on the entire being and wish I’d found it sooner. This is a fairly normal pattern, most of us neglecting an area of fitness until we sustain an injury, become sick with stress or develop one of the modern diseases later in life, such as hypertension, diabetes 2 or raised cholesterol levels.
- Cardiovascular Exercise: The cardiovascular system is responsible for transporting oxygen, nutrients, hormones and waste products throughout the body and is powered by the most important and hardest-working organ of all: the heart. Cardiovascular exercise is anything that raises your heart rate and current guidelines advise 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Running, swimming and cycling (the greatest fat burner of all!) are good examples, but anything that gets the heart pumping is good.
- Strength Training: Muscular fitness is another key component of a fitness routine and builds strength, tone and endurance in the muscles, joints and bones. Strength training at least twice a week can help you increase bone strength and muscular fitness. It can also help you maintain muscle mass which naturally starts to deplete from our mid 30’s. This is what gives us our shape and for this reason is very popular. It includes weight training, and body resistance (Pilates, Barre).
- Flexibility: Stretching, relaxation, meditation and other nurturing techniques are very much overlooked by most of us when we are working by ourselves. It seems this in an area for which we have least time. Although all good exercise classes will include a few minutes’ maintenance stretching at the end of class (still people leave without doing this!), it is not nearly enough to protect you, keep you free from injury and free from stress. A combination of yoga, perhaps ball rolling therapy and massage on a regular basis, 2 to 3 times a week would be ideal. It doesn’t have to be for an hour or so, but shorter, more frequent sessions would be highly beneficial.
One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed since going back into the studio to teach is the introduction of the class pass membership deal which allows you to buy a monthly pass to numerous participating studios and gyms for a very competitive price. This is an excellent way to discover all the different types of exercise on offer and the instructors/studios dotted around the city. The problem is that it encourages a fairly random approach to fitness. The keen may over train in their favourite type of exercise and it’s highly likely that the same muscle groups will be over worked on two consecutive days because there is no continuity.
My advice is to use the pass system to explore and find the studio that offers all components under one roof and where experienced, knowledgeable instructors can help you safely get the results you are striving for in a fun and welcoming community. Only then will you fully appreciate good health and wellbeing in its most complete form.