Find Your Groove: Build A Well-Rounded Fitness Plan

Aerobic activity tends to steal the fitness spotlight, but your body isn't getting a well-rounded routine without the rest of the fitness ensemble: strength training and flexibility. 

So, whether you're an amateur fitness act that needs help getting off the ground, a repeat performer who's ready to the hit the road or an exercise enthusiast who aspires to attain rock-star status, here are a few tips for a harmonious fitness routine from Edward Gilbert, exercise physiologist at GMC's Gwinnett SportsRehab.


AMATEUR ACT
Maybe you were an exercise rock star in the past, but now you feel like a fitness has-been. Never fear: You can stage a comeback, but it probably should be more akin to a slow progression than a meteoric rise.

AEROBIC: There are plenty of aerobic exercises you can try, such as walking, running,
swimming or cycling. Pick one that fits you best, and be realistic. Gilbert suggests putting one foot in front of the other.
“If you’re not doing anything right now, the best thing you can do is to start a walking program. Pick three times a week—twice during the workweek and once on the weekend—to carve out 30 to 45 minutes to go for a walk,” says Gilbert. Keep it manageable, and in about four to six weeks, you can build up your routine by adding another day or walking five to 10 minutes and then running three to five minutes to increase your intensity.

“If you start small and give yourself time to adjust to the changes and feel the benefits, it’ll start being motivational and you’ll actually want to do more.”

STRENGTH TRAINING: Just getting off the couch and moving is the aim for newbies, but when you’re ready to work in a few strength-training moves, two or three 10- to 20-minute sessions per week is a great start. You can work against your own weight with sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, abdominal crunches and leg squats or strike a new chord with resistance bands, free weights or weight machines that work different areas of your body.

FLEXIBILITY: Another term for flexibility exercises is stretching. Warm up with a few minutes
of walking first, and then Gilbert suggests focusing on your hip flexors, which are attached
to the front of your spine.

“Just by standing up and keeping your left leg behind your right and raising your left arm in the air and leaning back, you stretch out the hip flexors, which can relieve tightness in the back and in the hamstrings,” he says.

REPEAT PERFORMER
Now that you’ve worked your way into a regular fitness gig, exercising three to five times a week, maybe it’s time to tweak your act so it doesn’t get stale. Blending your aerobic and strength training efforts is a great way to keep your performance fresh.

AEROBIC AND STRENGTH TRAINING:
Exercise programs that combine cardio exercise with strength training offer a one-two
fitness punch that breaks up the monotony of your regular routine. Gilbert suggests trying a boxing class or a boot camp-style fitness program that will get your heart pumping and add new strength-training exercises to your repertoire. Another trend is the small-group personal training program.

“A trainer will work with anywhere between three and 10 people per session, two to three
days per week,” Gilbert says. “You’re not getting constant, one-on-one attention, but you’re getting specific ideas on how to structure your workout program, and it’s a more cost-effective alternative to getting a trainer on your own.”

FLEXIBILITY: Add yoga to your stretching routine for added benefits, including stress reduction and improved mood.

“What’s particularly wonderful about yoga is the repetitive breathing. It’s extremely soothing and great for stress management and anxiety,” he says.

There are many types of yoga, though, so do some research to find the right one for your
fitness abilities.

ROCK STAR
At this level, you’re not looking for your big fitness break: You’ve already found it. But now
you’re addicted to the action and occasionally find yourself looking for a new fitness “high.”
Look no further.

AEROBIC AND STRENGTH TRAINING: The concept of extreme fitness challenges for serious exercisers is on the rise. Urban challenges and adventure races that pack more demanding elements than a typical marathon are growing in popularity, as are military-style mud runs.

“Mud runs put you through obstacles that Marines use as part of their training,” Gilbert
says. “There are also Marine Corps training facilities where drill instructors are more
than willing to provide the ‘encouragement’ that you need.”

Muddy Buddy races are similarly grueling feats of fitness, where teams of two or three
people mountain bike and run together. “These events offer ways to work with someone else, have a training goal and do something fun and out of the ordinary,” Gilbert says.

FLEXIBILITY: If you’re already taking the rest of your routine to the extreme, chances are you’re warmed up and limber. To change things up, try a more intense yoga class, such as Ashtanga (“power yoga”) or Bikram, which is performed in a heated room.

However you decide to round out your routine, Gilbert advises making it fit who you are and where you are today.
Visit gwinnettmedicalcenter.org/fitnessprogram or call 678-312-2810 to set up an appointment with a GMC exercise specialist.

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