Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sustainable Exercise – Health and Wellness

Most people start exercising, at least in part, to improve their health.  In my last post, I listed two questions to ask to help figure out if you are exercising sustainably relative to health and wellness. Not surprisingly they are very straight forward.

  • Do I often get injuries from exercise?
  • Is my health improving, or at least not getting any worse, because of exercise?

Let me start with the first question, “Do I often get injuries from exercise?” For many people the answer is yes, and for most runners, the answer is HELL YES! If you keep getting injuries from an activity, eventually your body will not recover adequately, and you will have stop.  Clearly a constant cycle injury and re-injury is not sustainable.

More than anything else, injury is a function of technique, and the way to address this problem is (you guessed it) to work on your technique.  Sometimes injuries can be the result of overtraining, but often the injury is indirectly related to overtraining. What happens is that when you get tired your technique degrades, and then it is at that point you are vulnerable to injury.

In any case, overtraining is never sustainable. Not just because it results in injuries, but because it is also a symptom of obsessive training. Like it or not, obsessive training almost always results in the body breaking down rather than building up.  With that, I’ll segway into my next question, “Is my health improving, or at least not getting any worse, because of exercise?”

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen who have broken down bodies from training obsessively. People, who go off the deep end with their workouts, simply are not giving their bodies adequate time to recover, and that lack of recovery will take a toll on one’s health. It’s just a matter of time.

If you can answer yes to any of the following you are probably training obsessively and therefore not sustainably.

  • Are you training even if you feel don’t feel well? 
  • Are you training even if you feel tired and sluggish?
  • Do you always stick to your training schedule no matter the physical risks might be?
  • Do have and absolute minimum daily or weekly mileage count?
  • Do you have to train a specific amount of time per day?
  • Do you have to train a certain number of days per week?

So my message here is that part of a strategy for sustainable training is to do the following.

  • Make sure you are moving correctly by utilizing proper technique.  
  • If your technique is not good, make fixing it your priority.
  • Do not train obsessively. Allow your body adequate recovery time 
  • Do not take unnecessary physical risks just to get your training in

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