For children, exercise is play — and it’s enjoyable. Aerobic activities such as riding a bike, running, soccer, basketball, volleyball, hockey, dancing, and swimming are popular, and include an immense amount of joy. As we age, regular physical activity is recommended to remain healthy, and with a regular exercise program, we can reduce our risk for chronic diseases and injury. But how do we keep it fun and interesting?
A training program that is both fun and challenging is much more likely to keep our attention and help us achieve the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and two days of muscle-strengthening activity a week. The ideal exercise program incorporates low-intensity activities, such as walking and stretching routines, and more vigorous sports, such as aerobic and resistance exercise.
Low impact aerobic activities, like cycling and rowing, allow your heart rate to safely increase while cutting down on orthopedic stress. Flexibility exercises, such as stretching and yoga, encourages full range of motion, which helps performance, posture, balance and decreases risk of injury.
Aerobic training through running, climbing stairs or jumping is a great way to burn calories, help your blood flow, and exercise your heart rate. Resistance training — with bodyweight, resistance bands, or added weight — supplements aerobic training and should target the major muscle groups including legs, arms, and core. Resistance training helps build strength to support your joints and contributes to better bone health.
Exposure to a variety of activities in these categories prevents overuse injury and develops multiple movement skills. Plus, changing activities in your routine is a great way to retain interest in your training program, and engage different muscles through different movement patterns.
Another way to have fun training is to learn your VO2 Max, or maximal oxygen consumption, the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can utilize during intense or maximal exercise. The more oxygen you inhale, the more energy your body can use —a higher VO2 Max usually means better physical fitness. Your VO2 Max informs your unique training zones, which are the target ranges of exertion during certain activities. Once you learn your zones, you can use a heart rate monitor to keep yourself within a certain zone — like a game —and achieve maximum results.
As with children, adults thrive in a safe, supportive environment with positive feedback and encouragement. Social support, such as group fitness and coaching sessions, is shown to boost confidence and commitment to training. And whether your goal is training for a marathon or managing diabetes, every person can benefit from an individualized training program, and enjoy the journey to better health.
This article was written by a Barton Performance Coach with the Barton Center for Orthopedics & Wellness. Barton Performance offers individualized training, group fitness and Performance Labs, such as VO2 Max, to the Lake Tahoe community. To learn more, call 530-600-1976 or visit BartonOrthopedicsandWellness.com.