by Kenneth Rudich (note: this installment is a continuation of the Social Good Campaign sponsored by MSM)
If you’ve passed the medical readiness consideration, it’s likely safe for you to indulge in physical activity.
Before you begin, however, let’s quickly review the three components of a physical workout to get you off on the right foot. They include: the warm-up, the main activity (the workout), and the cool-down. It is advisable to go through this orderly progression each and every time you workout.
The warm-up nourishes the muscles and prepares the body for the more rigorous activity to follow. It consists of a cardiovascular warm-up and stretching.
The cardiovascular warm-up entails several minutes of slow aerobic activity. A light jog or swim will suit just fine.
The stretching follows the cardiovascular warm-up. You’ll want stretch all parts of the body, and you’ll want to begin with a static stretch, which means no bouncing or movement – just a continuous stretch. Examples of advisable stretches include the leg hug, the zipper, back saver toe touch, and the side stretch.
main activity (the workout)
The main activity or work out should be something you like to do. After all, the idea is to do it on a routine basis.
Start slowly, especially if you’re new to it or just getting away from a sedentary lifestyle. Be patient. The only performance that really counts is the health benefits to be had from engaging in the physical activity.
Dress appropriately for the activity and for the weather conditions. Make sure the clothing is suitable, and that you’ve taken into consideration special equipment needs like ankle braces or a biking helmet.
Proper footwear is also important. It should be constructed to serve the purpose, whether that’s running, walking, aerobics, tennis or cross training. The design of the shoe should feature basic characteristics such as a heel counter, heel stabilizer, Achille’s tendon notch, a toe box, an outsole and a midsole.
Know your limits and listen to your body. Remember, the old notion of “no pain, no gain” is a myth. Your body will let you know if you’re pushing it too hard.
The last piece of advice is to know what to do if problems arise, such as cramping, sprains (ligaments), or strains (muscle/tendon). Most trainers rely on something known as the RICE formula – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.
The cool-down encompasses the same activities as the warm-up. It eases the body back into its slower functioning state. In fact, some feel it’s a better time to stretch because the muscles are loosened up and you’ll get more benefit from it.
Advocates of the cool-down say it also prevents the blood from pooling by forcing the muscles to massage the veins and push the blood back toward the heart. It also can be good for working out muscle cramps.
Contrary to a popular advertising slogan, there’s more to physical activity than “just do it.” It’s important to do it right.