Weight lifters often put themselves at risk of injury by overdoing extreme sets. Likewise, runners are more prone to injury if they are constantly pounding the pavement but fail to strength train and build lean muscle mass.
We all have different ideas on what constitutes a fun form of fitness. We’re dedicated to what we find most enjoyable, but without finding a good balance and functional fitness, it can all fall apart.
So, what is your workout routine missing? Here are a few suggestions for balancing your workout more naturally by paying attention to flexibility … of the body AND mind.
Stretching Exercises for Studs
Just the thought of stretching makes some people say, “Ugh. Why do I need to stretch if everything is already working just fine?” That’s like someone saying, “ I don’t eat enough vegetables, but my body still feels healthy and energized.” You don’t know what you’re missing.
Body stretching has to be looked at as another weapon in your arsenal of muscle building. With increased flexibility one gains improved mobility, which is key to a successful lift and optimal performance. Flexibility exercises also aide in muscle recovery, reduce risk of injury and increase range of motion.
A stretching routine doesn’t need to cut into your day, and it can be done at home while watching TV. Whether you’re a cardio queen or king, a weight-lifting freak of nature, or anyone in between, stretching is good for the body. Build your fitness plan around the time of day or night that works best for you so that it won’t seem like such a chore to get it all in.
Meditation for Athletes
Your muscles need a break. So does your mind! Intense exercise is a physical stressor on the body, especially at an elite level as the body starts to adapt to higher intensity levels. That intensity drains the brain as well.
Something as simple as meditation, or a quieting of the mind, has shown to help. A study of Division I college football players found that the athletes who practiced meditation for about 12 minutes a day were “better able to withstand the mental demands of hours of strenuous physical training,” according to an article in The New York Times.
Basically, the players who practiced mindful meditation (focusing on the breath and the present moment) once a day for 4 weeks were more mentally resilient under strain than those who didn’t participate.
The study isn’t only relevant to college ball players but to anyone starting an exercise program or competing more intensely than they have in the past.
Meditating takes far less time than a workout, so it’s worth a few minutes out of your day. If you’re not sure where to start, you can find a variety of free apps to try. Headspace for Sport is a meditation app for athletes that is broken down into categories, such as focus, competition, training and motivation.
Pulling It All Together
If your bones are creaking or flexibility is limited through the shoulders, lower back, and hips, it might be time to change up your routine or at least try something different during your off-season. Yes, that’s right: yoga.
Yoga is a practice that involves everything your mind and body have to offer, including physical, mental and spiritual aspects of movement.
Yoga has many health benefits, one of which is increased flexibility in all the tight areas of the body. Yoga is not about twisting and stretching yourself like a rubberband. Yoga has been shown to reduce hypertension and chronic neck pain, lower the risk of heart disease, and help build healthy bones.
For all the fitness lovers in the world, there’s a little something for everyone to dabble in from stretching to meditating to yoga, and so much more. Even if you’re not into working out, you owe it to yourself to take good care of your mind and body in as many ways as possible.