VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF EXERCISE
PERHAPS YOU’LL WANT TO STAND while you read this article. Too much sitting is bad. You know what they say, “You rest, you rust.” So regard this as a healthy booster shot for those on the fence or needing a pinch of inspiration.
Regular exercise prevents a legion of ailments; it even helps you sleep. Just as continual learning prevents the brain from atrophying and keeping the mind engaged wards off depression, movement—in a variety of forms—keeps the body limber, less likely to fall ill, and younger.
Having started my fitness interests 40 years ago I have been able to formulate several strong impressions:
A) We evolved as a mobile, competitive species, and out of necessity we require maintenance in order not to atrophy and degrade. In fact, we are wired for movement and our body processes suffer for the lack of it.
B) It is often a question of what is too much, rather than what kind of exercise should I get. Only you can answer the question: What really works for my body type, my lifestyle, and my fitness goals?
Me, I’ve taken the eclectic approach and am the happier, and healthier, for it.
To start, I use yoga as a combo relaxant and pick-me-up when I’m tired, as well as when I’m sick enough not to want to leave the house for the gym or a massage (which I view as an assisted stretch). Additionally, I use my Pilates roller for stretches and select inverted postures.
I also utilize martial arts like Tai Chi for limbering up and slowing down. Sometimes, I work in Bo Staff and stick fighting drills for more intense aerobics, in order to get the heart pumping and the body moving. This offers a more integrated, total body, power workout. These days, I also visualize fighting an opponent, because it’s not only a psychic stress outlet, I’m less inclined to allow someone to hit my nearly 60-year-old head with a bamboo stick (or anything else for that matter).
Given more personal time I would add light weight training to the above mix of healthy activities—but for this part-time student and father of two young girls, inconsistent weight training hurts my joints, and I just don’t care much about being “ripped” at this point. Also, gross muscle gain could wreak minor havoc on the forearms (think Popeye), and on the little time I get to play guitar, which is my second favorite thing to do—not to mention a much higher priority in my life than beefing up.
A few years back, when I was disabled due to an allopathic illness, I instinctively began a program of slow, deliberate walking, which let me gently build myself up after being assaulted by a toxic liver-damaging medication. Decades later, I now take the stairs two at a time; and at the computer I stretch, shrug and lightly strengthen via isometrics. If time allows, I get up, do a 15-minute interval of calisthenics and pushups around 3 pm. It beats coffee. If I’m really beat, I like to work in an extended inverted yoga pose before an evening class. These upside-down poses, properly done, leave me feeling refreshed and invigorated.
So what kind of shape is this post-50 guy in? Not bad. But looking at my contemporaries I generally look and feel decades younger, which I’m convinced has more to do with diet (no meat), maintenance and the right kind of supplements, rather than genetics or luck.
Will this kind of eclectic approach to fitness work for you? Well, your mileage may vary but I suggest you give some version of the above a good few months of effort before making any final determination. And while you figure it out, you’re bound to feel better.
Max Lamboy is a full-time father, part-time student and one-time software developer working on a graduate degree in computer science toward possibly teaching as a “retirement career.” He has been an information technology manager, a cash machine repair mechanic, as well as starving musician. Health and fitness knowledge seems like basic literacy everyone should have. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org