I always wondered how my father, come rain or shine, three days a week, would jog with his work cronies. I once asked him why he liked jogging so much. He reminds me that when he was younger he spent his time training in the gym, often only working his arms or chest, because at that point in his life he was more concerned with looks and 19-inch arms.
Over the years his practice, as his outlook on life, transformed into something new. He began to realize, through multiple injuries, that centering and stretching his body was important if he was to keep his bone and muscle structure strong. She took up yoga and worked her abs on the mat through a variety of exercises that today are called working your core.
At his age, jogging allows him to be close to nature and breathe fresh air, as fresh as New York air. It allows him to bond with groups of people pushing each other. It’s also social. As the ten-member group pairs up and talks about their lives, they become each other’s shrinks.
Of course there are hardcore runners out there looking to burn as many calories as possible. There are also people who care little, or really don’t care, about burning calories, but would rather enjoy the serene scenic routes and colorful character of Central Park.
It is important to understand the motivation behind the exercise you choose. By the time my dad was 67 he needed a total hip replacement. I’m not claiming that anyone who runs will injure themselves, but you need to be aware that your feet will take a bump over time. Despite the fact that a good pair of running shoes is actually the only expense, running can take a toll on the body.
FACT– Even though running increases one’s cardio capacity and burns calories, it will NOT build muscle. There are alternatives out there that offer cardio, or aerobic, as well as weight-bearing, anaerobic exercises. There are even exercises that offer a combination of the two.
SWIMMING – Due to the buoyancy of the water, swimming gives you a whole body workout, with less wear and tear on your joints and heart. It is excellent for increasing cardiovascular and lung capacity. However, not everyone knows how to swim, nor do they have access to a swimming pool. In addition, recent studies have shown that swimming increases appetite, and therefore swimmers tend to be overweight. I have to admit I’m not a big fan of rubber swim caps, as they are tight and itchy and make me feel like I’m doing a synchronized water ballet.
COMBINATION TRAINING – For those of us looking for both aerobic and anaerobic workouts, there are workout options that combine cardio with body building. Some of these exercises are quite intense and not for beginners, but there are variations to suit every level. Exercises like PX90, cross fit, and TRX are all forms of combined anaerobic and aerobic exercise, which can increase muscle mass and reduce overall body fat percentage while offering the cardiovascular benefits of jogging, swimming, and cycling.
This weight and cardio class also hits the most important muscle area in the whole body, your core. The core muscles, which are located in your abs, are the central point that connects your upper and lower body. Most movements, such as hitting a golf ball, or holding a baby, originate or travel through your core. Core strength increases power, stability and balance, while reducing wear and tear on the spine, allowing you to breathe deeply. Exercises that develop core strength include using equipment such as stability balls, medicine balls, kettle bells, and swing boards, as well as yoga and pilates.
Unless you are young and have no history of medical problems, it is important that you make sure that you are healthy enough for the exercise routine you have chosen. Before starting, consult your doctor regarding past injuries, high blood pressure, and liver function, to get a clean bill of health.
Bottom Line – Review all of your fitness goals to choose the exercise that best suits you, your lifestyle and everything you want to achieve.
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney
Good health to you all!