Self Care, Diet and Nutrition, Exercise
It’s July. We’re an equal distance between our New Year’s Resolution and the start of the next year.
Most likely, those who kept their resolutions are close to achieving success. But for the rest of us, it’s NOT too late to start a fitness and conditioning program and finish the year strong.
We’re not talking about losing weight; we’re talking about becoming the best version of fitness you can be. Often, that starts with a conditioning program.
Conditioning is defined as the act of bringing something into a desired state of use. When that definition applies to your body, it means becoming physically fit enough to do the activities you want to do.
Each person defines fitness based on his or her occupation and hobbies. Though the definitions may be unique, reaching your goal requires attention to three fundamental areas of health.
The first aspect of fitness to address is often the most difficult: nutrition. Notice we said “nutrition,” not “diet.”
While it may not be easy to overhaul your eating habits all at once, it is easy to start replacing high-fat, sugar-laden foods with fruits and vegetables. Start with one food at a time. Instead of reaching for the doughnut, reach for an orange.
The balance of fat and carbohydrates you need is dependent on the type of activity and fitness level you are seeking to achieve. Your food choices need to contain enough calories for the body to function properly and fuel your activity, but not more calories than your body needs.
There are some general guidelines to follow when eating for fitness.
Fueling your body with nutritious food gives your body the tools it needs to function better no matter what you choose to do in your life. But it may have a few side effects. You may find you have more energy, feel better, sleep sounder and you may even lose a few pounds.
As a society, our activity levels have changed substantially. Just two or three generations ago, before there was a car in every garage, weight-bearing and aerobic activity were required for daily living. There was no need for the government to make exercise recommendations. But, with the advent of modern conveniences and technology, our lives have changed.
Today, we must schedule activity in our day.
Your conditioning program should include activities and exercises that:
A well-planned conditioning program can address all of these issues. For the best results, you may want to work with a sports medicine specialist, fitness coach or personal trainer to identify your goals and create a workout routine that helps you reach them. Your plan will likely include five types of exercise movements.
As you create your conditioning plan, you will want to consider the third part of fitness – rest.
You know your body needs rest to recover. When you are in a conditioning program, your body needs three types of rest to achieve success.
#1. Rest during your workouts.
Workouts may be structured in several ways. Some require continuous movement for a certain amount of time. Others stipulate how many times a set of movements are completed. No matter which structure your workout follows, you need a rest period between each effort.
It’s more than the time you get a drink, shake it off or take a deep breath and wipe off the sweat. It gives your muscles a break.
During your rest period, you may also want to follow the advice of an article in Men’s Health, 3 Ways Rest Can Positively Impact Your Workout and stretch the muscles opposing those you’ve just worked. It seems to boost strength and endurance.
Sean Hyson, the article's author, also encourages readers to rest the right amount time. He quotes recommendations from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA):
If your goal is muscle gain: 30–90 sec. rest
If your goal is strength: 2–5 min. rest
If your goal is endurance: 30 sec. or less
Resting during your workout is necessary for health and recovery.
#2. Rest between workouts.
All training programs, whether they focus on conditioning for general health or a summer of marathons, should have periods of rest built into the schedule.
In general, the harder a muscle group works the longer it needs to rest. A 40-minute, weight-bearing leg workout may require a day of rest, whereas a 90-minute workout may require two days of recovery.
But that doesn’t mean you stop moving. Many conditioning programs schedule aerobic activities and weight-training exercises on alternating days, six days a week, to rest specific muscle groups while improving cardiovascular function and supporting overall health.
The seventh day, of course, should be a complete day of rest for the entire body.
#3. Sleep offers ultimate rest and recovery.
Much has been written about the importance of sleeping between seven to nine hours each night for health and wellness. While that is a dream for most people, it is a goal to work toward during a conditioning program.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is critical for brain function as spinal fluid clears away waste products. Sleep gives your heart and lungs a break as your heartbeat and breathing slows. Sleep also gives your body the opportunity to release hormones that repair the fibers of your muscles and joints.
But for many sleep is elusive and may require a few lifestyle changes.
Practice good sleep hygiene for the best rest.
For the best sleep, turn your bedroom into a sanctuary instead of an extension of the office.
Whether your goal is to be healthy enough to go on a bike ride with your grandchildren, join a high school biking league or compete in an Ultraman marathon, a well-rounded conditioning program can get you there.
Finding a qualified coach, certified trainer, sports medicine specialist or physical therapist to provide support and encouragement is a major step on your journey toward fitness. These professionals can also help you assess your eating habits, create an activity and exercise plan and offer suggestions to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep.
To start your journey toward fitness with the advice of a Bone & Joint sports medicine specialist or certified athletic trainer, call 800.445.6442 or visit us online and request an appointment at bonejoint.net/appointment.
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