1. Over the next couple of weeks, we'll outline the 7 keys to Moving More. Here are the first 4 keys.
2. Key 1: Build your Fitness. Regular aerobic exercise such as swimming, jogging, cycling, or hiking, makes your cardiovascular system (heart, blood vessels, lungs) stronger and energy pathways in your muscles more efficient.
3. Key 2: Build your Strength. Strength training doesn't just make your stronger. It also helps to prevent various chronic illnesses and diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.
4. Key 3: Build your Speed. If you are exercising regularly and have established your basic fitness level, interval (speed) training is a way for you to develop your endurance and your strength capacity.
5. Key 4: Build your Mobility. Regular stretching decreases muscle tension, reduces pain, improves range of motion, relaxes muscles and nerves, and decreases stress.
The potential for improvement in our lives by moving more is great. Simply standing up changes the way your body uses energy, circulates blood, and also how you think! Exercise can improve concentration, learning, focus and memory and can even prevent and treat mental illnesses. But taking advantage of this will require a paradigm shift. We need to incorporate movement into our daily lives. Here are the first 4 keys to making that happen:
Key #1: Build your Fitness
The foundation of health and performance is your aerobic system. The aerobic system is the system that uses oxygen to create energy that fuels most of the activities in your life, from walking to running to playing music to writing a test, or to solving a math problem in your mind.
Walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, hiking, and other similar activities will build up your cardiovascular system (heart, lungs, blood, blood vessels) and the aerobic energy pathway inside your muscles. These activities enhance the transport system your body uses to get oxygen from the environment to the muscle cells where it is used to create energy. When you put stress on your muscles, heart, and lungs by pushing them through aerobic activities for periods of time that are longer than they are used to, you stimulate adaptation in the system and make it more efficient.
Key #2: Build your Strength
When you do strength training you are engaging different energy systems and muscle fibres than you use when you’re doing aerobic training. This type of exercise is more intense and requires that we create more force with our muscles than what we need to do when we’re doing light to moderate intensity aerobic activity.
Muscle growth occurs when the micro-tears work in conjunction with a molecule called mTOR that is produced during a strength session to stimulate the production of new actin and myosin (the protein chains responsible for muscle contraction). In essence, you break your muscles down to build them up!
mTOR’s basic effects are that it activates fat, liver, and brain cells and increases your general health by making you stronger and more efficient. But it is also believed that mTOR can help prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease, among others. These effects mean that strength training is as important for our health as cardiovascular activities.
Strength training is also great if you want to improve your body composition and lose fat. Muscle tissue burns fat most easily. If you can increase your muscle mass, you will have more metabolically active tissue that will burn fat as fuel, even at rest.
Key #3: Build your Speed
Interval (or speed) training refers to varying the pace of your workout session from easy right through to a maximal effort. A combination of slow/fast paces engages both your aerobic energy system for endurance and anaerobic energy systems for power and speed.
Here’s how intervals work:
You engage in a series of short exercise blocks (from 10 seconds up to a few minutes long) separated by a rest or low-intensity period. For example, 45 seconds at 65-80% effort (huffing and puffing!) followed by 45 seconds at 50% effort (taking it easy!) repeated a number of times. As your fitness improves, you can lengthen the higher exertion times, adjust the easy times, or adjust the total duration of the interval training set (easy plus hard). Always make sure you warm up properly before doing your interval set.
Interval training might sound complicated at first, but you’ve probably already done (or are currently doing) some form of interval training. For example, short burst of high intensity is exactly what happens when you play team sports such as soccer, hockey, or basketball. Even running around with your kids can be a form of interval training. If you’re already participating in these activities, that's great! However adding additional interval training on the side will improve your fitness and health.
Key #4: Build your Mobility
Stretching (also known as building flexibility and mobility) is an incredibly important element of overall fitness that is often overlooked. Yes, there is an ongoing debate about exactly what kind of stretching is best, but there is no debate about the fact that everyone should do it. Regular stretching decreases muscle tension, reduces pain, and improves range of motion. In an era when activities like sitting decrease our flexibility, stretching matters a lot.
But what kind of stretches should you do?
There are two major categories of stretches: static and dynamic. Static is the name for traditional stretches in which you hold a stretch for a period of time. Dynamic activation is the name for any motion that extends your muscles while moving, like swinging your legs or arms or doing lunges before a workout. Each type of stretching has an opposite effect on the nervous system.
Before you exercise, dynamic activation is the preferred approach. Dynamic activation causes excitatory neuromuscular signals to be sent from your brain to your muscles and increases range of motion, blood flow, and muscle temperature, all of which help with exercise.
Static stretching is best done when you are cooling down or when you're just stretching to relax. It helps to align your muscle fibres and reduces tension. So do this type of stretching after exercise or after a long day to relax your muscles and nerves, and to de-stress.
Bonus Workout of the Day: 7-minute Blast
Today's Habit: Find out what you like
Last week, you brainstormed some activities you might enjoy doing. Were you able to try one of these activities out?
If you enjoyed it - that’s great! If you didn’t, that’s okay too. You now know that that is an activity you aren’t likely to stick to in the future.
This week, we’re going to continue with the same habit. If you found an activity you enjoyed, try it out again or maybe pick something else on your list you’d like to try. If you didn’t enjoy the activity from last week, try another activity and see how you like it.
Keep up the good work! Next week, we’ll discuss our final Move More habit.
The information and advice provided in this program is intended to assist you with improving your performance, as well as your general health. It is not intended and should not be used in place of advice from your own physician or for treatment or diagnosis of any specific health issue. By participating in this program you acknowledge that undertaking any new health, diet and/or exercise regime involves certain inherent risks, that you assume such risks, and that you release The Wells Group Inc. from any responsibility or claim relating to such participation.