Fitness Fads – Friend or Foe?
By Crystal Hernandez
Maybe I age myself by admitting that I’ve been working in the fitness industry for 20 years. Although I did luckily move into the field just behind leg warmers and sweat bands, I did ride in on the wave of step aerobics. So over the past 20 years I’ve seen lots of changes. I’ve seen dance fitness become a craze, boot camps become the latest and greatest, and I’ve watched pilates and yoga emerge and re-emerge in facilities all over.
So many times I’ve heard, “________ is the greatest workout ever. You have to take this class.” Fill in the blank with every new fad that has ever been. Well, you know what? None of them are the greatest, but they are all great!
Here’s the bottom line, exercising is important, but there isn’t one way that is the best for every single person out there. When you’re choosing your form of exercise, choose what you enjoy. If going to dance fitness with your best friend makes you feel like you have two left feet, try something you like. In the end, if you like it, it becomes a habit probably something you will do your entire life. If it feels like torture, your sneakers will be in the back of the closet gathering dust. If boot camps make your knees and back hurt, but water aerobics makes you feel lovely, then that’s the great workout for you! You don’t have to choose the latest fad. What you do need to consider is what you enjoy doing and what is safe for your body.
Regardless of the type or types of exercise that you’re doing, make sure that you’re following these guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine:
- Acquire at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous cardiovascular activity per week. Aside from heart health and weight control there are a ton of other reasons to do cardio, like improving mood and alleviating anxiety.
- Get your strength training in. Not only is this important for gaining muscular strength and endurance but also for building bone density and increasing your metabolism. Aim for resistance training 2-3 non-consecutive days per week, and try to get in 2-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions for each major muscle group.
- Don’t forget to stretch. Stretching improves range of motion, flexibility and just like resistance training, makes activities of daily living easier. Muscles stretch best when they are warm so save your stretching for the end of your workout. Get some serious stretching in at least 2-3 days per week, stretching each muscle to the point of tension (not pain), holding for 10-30 seconds (building up to 60 seconds) and repeating that stretch 2-4 times. Catch all the major muscles and remember that chest, shoulders, hip flexors, hamstrings and calves tend to need a bit more flexibility work.
- Neuromotor exercise is important too, especially for those of us that are getting older, and who isn’t. Focus on balance and agility work 2-3 days per week spending 20-30 minutes at it.
Find a facility to be a part of that doesn’t just offer one format or type of exercise and allows you to try numerous types of exercise so you can discover your personal favorite. Additionally, changing your workout, or cross training, can reduce boredom and lower your risk for injury. Your needs and likes will change over time and so will your workouts. Good luck discovering what makes you want to stay healthy, even if it includes leg warmers and sweat bands, and remember that frequency, intensity and duration are all important when it comes to reaching your goals.
This Act Locally Waco blog post was written by Crystal Hernandez. Crystal is the Chronic Disease Specialist for the Waco Family YMCA. She received her degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion from the University of Memphis. She and husband Shawn are blessed to be the parents of 4 beautiful children. In her free time, she loves hitting the pavement and pounding out a good run.
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