The Best Exercise Program!
Good headline! I get asked that question all of the time! Sometimes people are looking for validation that what the current exercise program they are doing is the best choice or have been doing it for so long that they are defending something that maybe truly not the best choice.
Well, to tell you the truth, I am not sure which exercise program is the best. I guess it is the one that has got you off the couch and moving! I don’t think there is one exercise program or philosophy that I think is foolproof. I believe that all have some benefits and contraindications. I have been in the fitness business for a long time and I think I could both praise and shoot holes in just about all of the different exercise programs.
The key is trying to figure out how little exercise we need to get and stay fit. We need to simulate a variety of activities that will fit into our busy lives that will meet the demands that our bodies need to survive.
Your exercise program should take a comprehensive approach including proper nutrition, cardiovascular exercise, flexibility, and resistance (weight training).
I really don’t care what the form of cardiovascular exercise you choose, be it walking, running, swimming or dancing. The key is to get your heart rate up to a range that is going to elicit physiological changes. If you don’t know how to figure that out, ask a fitness professional or your cardiologist for some guidance. (note- the charts on the walls of some fitness facilities are not real accurate especially if you are taking hypertensive medications). A heart rate monitor is a great accurate tool to give you feedback.
There are all sorts of studies out there trying to figure out what are the ideal ranges of motion we should achieve. We do know as we get older that we get less flexible. The key is to have enough range of motion to safely move but we also need to recognize that it isn’t all that important to be able to put you foot behind your neck.
This is an area that intimidates a lot of people. They are afraid that they will hurt themselves or that they will look like a body builder. The key is that you need to develop enough strength to life the bag of groceries, your grandchild, or your spouse that has fallen.
There is a checklist that I give all of my staff and have posted in their office that they use when preparing a workout for a client. It was printed in the IDEA Today journal in 1995. You can use the following questions to figure out if the exercise program you have selected is diverse enough to cover. It is called the Any Exercise Drill. It includes 10 questions that you should ask when creating or selecting specific resistance training exercises.
- What is the goal?
- What is the joint action?
- What muscle is being used to create the movement at the joint?
- What is the proper path of motion?
- What is the proper range of motion at the joint?
- What is the active range of motion at the joint?
- Is the overload effective in terms of the amount of resistance?
- Is the direction of force or resistance in direct opposition to the movement pattern?
- Has necessary stabilization occurred in the body prior to movement and has it been maintained during th movement?
- Do the risks of the exercise outweigh it potential risks? What about orthopedic concerns?
If we had been on a life long fitness journey (think moving like a small child) there would be no need for gyms or fitness professionals. However, I can bet that the majority of us have been sedentary WAY to long!
So ask yourself, have I got myself in such a de-conditioned physical state and are having difficulty in performing activities of daily living or recapturing activities that you “used” to do and enjoyed, consider enlisting the help of a nationally certified and educated fitness professional to get you back on the right path!