What does a good workout look like to you? Does it involve sweat, heavy breathing, discomfort, challenging intensity for 30-60 minutes? Those are all good adjectives to describe your exercise routine and workouts, but a good workout isn’t defined by those adjectives.
Most people believe that “no pain, no gain” mantra 20 years ago was the only way to achieve a good workout but, today most clients or people I talk to believe as long as you are sweating, heavy breathing, discomfort, challenging intensity are involved you had a good workout. I want to take the narrative further because I want to broaden the perspective of what a good workout can be.
Generally most people desire better flexibility, balance, and mobility. Think of the things you’ve taken for granted throughout your lifetime like getting out of bed or the car, or out of your clothes with ease. As we age those actions become puzzles and we often have to wonder how you can get them done without hurting oneself. If you did a workout focused on those three things with a relatively low heart rate and you barely broke a sweat then did you get a good workout? Of course, you did because the workout was purpose driven and it is going to provide stability and safety within your lifestyle.
Purpose driven workouts is the shift we need in the fitness world to propel it forward. A 65-year-old male client, in good shape, recently asked me if strength is more important than cardio. During a routine check-in with his cardiologist, the doctor felt he should get more cardio than strength training. Puzzled by the conflicting advice that his general doctor and myself have given him, that strength is more important than cardio post 50 years of age, he asked me again, “Why is strength more important than cardio?” My answer was who cares if you can walk a mile if you can’t get off the floor?
The best ways to improve balance and flexibility can be accomplished using two methods: The first option is to do a few exercises daily, like the Tibetan seven exercises each morning or 5-15 minutes before and after your workout. The second option is to dedicate one to two workout days a week to balance and flexibility. Here are a few of the stretches and balance exercises that you can add to your routine. Remember to check with your doctor or your fitness professional before starting with these exercises.
- Cat Cow
- Lunge stretch/half lunge
- Lateral lunge groin stretch
- Doorway chest stretch
- Crossover hip and low back stretch lying on your back
- Standing hamstring stretch
- Stand on one leg for 5-20 seconds
- Single leg RDL (Romanian deadlift)
- Sitting on an Ab ball with one leg on the ground for 5-20 seconds
- Squats on a Bosu ball