How strong is your personal commitment to physical fitness? The start of the 2012 Olympic Games this week provides a great opportunity to decide if you are doing all that you can to stay in shape, whatever your age and abilities.
Olympic athletes train long and hard to be the best of the best. The rest of us just need to become our personal best. And all that takes is being consistent. Doing just about anything on a regular basis that puts your body in motion and uses some major muscle groups can make you more physically fit.
Move More Often
Running a marathon is the ultimate test of stamina, but most people struggle to find 30 minutes a day to take a walk. So what can we do? Researchers at the Healthy Lifestyles Research Center at Arizona State University did a study to measure the benefits of training for shorter intervals.
What they found is that walking briskly for 10 minutes three times a day is more effective in controlling blood pressure than taking one 30 minute walk. Who doesn't have time to get up and take a 10 minute walk around the block before work, after lunch and again in the evening? These findings add to the growing body of evidence that short, cumulative exercise sessions are beneficial. And they're definitely more manageable.
Increase Your Repetitions
The resistance most people have to resistance exercise is that it's just too hard to lift those heavy weights. But a new study from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario provides an appealing alternative.
Instead of lifting the heaviest weight possible to get stronger muscles, researchers found you can lift a lighter weight more often and still make muscles grow. The key is doing enough repetitions to tire the muscle while maintaining good form. You may not become The Incredible Hulk, but it's good to know you can improve your strength and definition without lifting anything bigger than your head.
Most athletes are celebrated for their strength or speed, but flexibility is an equally important part of the fitness the triad, and has the most lasting benefits. Being flexible improves posture and balance, and that helps prevent falls - a serious concern as we age.
Whether you do tai chi, yoga or your own top-to-bottom stretches each day, maintaining your flexibility will reap benefits in every other aspect of your life. From putting on your own socks in the morning to getting out of a chair at the end of the night, being able to bend, reach, twist, and turn without pain or stiffness is like winning a gold medal!
What event would you want to compete in at the summer games if you had the chance?