The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, he said:
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Do you see truth to this quote? Did it rock your world, like it rocked mine? See, I think everyone at some point has been told to “save for their future”. It isn’t as common to have someone say “Workout for your future”. Why not? Preservation of health and preservation of financial wealth should go hand in hand. Especially since health care can be very expensive and debilitating. At some point in an individual’s life, he/she will need to invest time and money into their bodies.
Society has changed, therefore so has our daily activity level. Where at one point in time it was a part of day-to-day life, now we must put the effort it to maintaining our health.
Commonly as an athletic therapist, I hear the same excuses; “no time, don’t know what to eat, or don’t know what to do”? These are valid problems, when they are true!!! There are a many things you can do on a weekly basis in which will help maintain your health that are simple. However, simplicity is relative to an individual’s perception of the task. Education is the most important tool when trying to be efficient in a healthy lifestyle.
If you are uneducated in fitness (Nutrition/Resistance Training/Cardiovascular Training/etc), then get educated anyway you can. Whether you pick up a book/magazine, hire a personal trainer/nutritionist or even just do some old fashion research. Caution: Make sure the sources you get your information from are reputable and valid. There is nothing like wasting your time, or possibly causing illness/injury with bad information.
To ensure your info is valid make sure content is consistent with other sources and personal trainers should have proof of certification(s). Make a strong effort to learn as much as possible regarding a topic or issue. Having an unbalanced knowledge base will transfer into the manifestation of an unbalanced body and lifestyle. For example, if I know everything about strength training and nothing about flexibility, I will not stretch as efficiently as I lift – resulting in injury.
Injuries usually occur due to over-training (over use) and lack of flexibility. Flexibility training or stretching is a powerful part of maintaining a more youthful body and an effective training program. By maintaining ones flexibility we maintain good posture/blood flow and functional support for our skeletal system. Incorporating a stretching portion to you training program will drastically reduces the likelihood of injury. Not to mention improve your workouts by increasing range of motion, and decompressing your joints (decreasing the “wear and tear” on your body).
Stretches should be held for at least 30 seconds or more, depending on the size and tightness muscle. For sports, pre-game stretches will differ from post game, due to the different response required of the muscle. When getting ready for exercise, we want to stimulate the muscle fibers to prepare them for firing during the workout. Some sources state that too heavy of a stretch will actually inhibit the ability to fire muscle fibers. This is why we should all work on our flexibility constantly in order to remove the need of a heavy stretch before exercise, to prevent injuries. Exercise should be the icing on the cake, so to speak.
Once we have stretched and fueled ourselves with the proper nutrients – it is time for the exercise. Without flexibility and nutrition, exercise cannot be done as efficiently. Exercise can be; strength training at home, running, golfing etc. Whatever the exercise may be, understand that each type of exercise has a different level of intensity. Each differing level of intensity changes the level of results achieved. Therefore, we must understand that to achieve certain goals we must participate in a correlating amount of exercise. (An individual who aspires to be a fitness model will have to participate in exercise more intensely and frequently than someone who just wants to stay healthy).
When training/exercising for retirement, think consistency. Consistency means not flip flopping between an intense lifestyle and sedentary one. Aim to enjoy exercise. You will be more likely to volunteer for its participation. Humans instinctively enjoy things they are good at, so this is why we educate ourselves.
The dream is that after years of hard work and sacrifice, for all of our aspirations and ideas for retirement to come true. Imagine the aspirations and ideas not coming full circle because of the damage and lack of respect for your body of the years. Not being able to golf, garden, play with grandchildren or worst case, not even make it to retirement. It doesn’t take much to maintain a healthy lifestyle, while enjoying a healthy quality of life. It just takes a consistent effort to educate oneself and participate in an active lifestyle.
By Brendan Cochren, Kinesiologist and Certified Personal Trainer