Breaking News …. Exercise is Good for You … Imagine That!
In the news today new research is telling us that inactivity is responsible for almost as many deaths each year as smoking! That’s about 5.3 million deaths worldwide per year.
We have always known that exercise is good for us. Plato said “Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it”. But too often we hear excuses for not doing exercise such as not having time or enough money.
I suspect that also people have become scared of exercise, that is to say that when they think of exercise they think of gyms, Lycra and top class athletes that they must emulate. They see themselves and think “I can’t be like them, I’m so unfit that I couldn’t possibly even get started!”
But we don’t have to run for miles, pump iron in the gym, join a triathlon club or buy a step machine. If we look at the current health guidelines we should be doing two and a half hours of moderate intensity, aerobic and muscular strengthening exercise. That equates to less than 26 minutes per day spread over the week.
Exercise can mean anything that raises the heart rate and gets you a bit out of breath. Walking the dog, going up stairs, gardening, playing with children and even sex all count as exercise. In fact for human beings exercise as we know it these days is quite an alien concept. After all sitting still whilst driving several miles to the gym then running on the spot on a treadmill going nowhere for half an hour is completely nuts if you think about it!
According to the Lancet it is about using the body that we have in the way it was designed, which is to walk often, run sometimes, and move in ways where we physically exert ourselves regularly whether that is at work, at home, in transport to and from places, or during leisure time in our daily lives.
So let’s try to think about exercise in a different way. What if you went for a walk in the evening for twenty minutes, ten minutes from the house and back? Throughout the working week you would have done an hour and forty minutes exercise already. Add to that walking up the stairs in the car park rather than taking the lift on Saturday afternoon in town and a bit of vigorous weeding in the garden on Sunday and you are just about there.
People often see exercise as a way to lose weight or get fit for the summer but let’s start to see it for what it should be – for health. Exercise helps to make your heart stronger, helps to prevent many cancers, tones up muscles preventing back and neck pain and can really help to relieve stress and depression and ultimately helps you live a longer, healthier life.
So let’s all get outside a bit – especially if the weather is about to get better as they promise. Make a small change and see the benefits – you can always make more changes later. Let’s get healthier!
PILATES AND BACK PAIN
Many people that we see in the clinic suffering from back pain, neck pain or any other musculo-skeletal ailment often have an underlying cause for their imbalance. If the body is not capable of holding itself efficiently then it cannot function properly. Pilates helps to address the underlying structural imbalances in the body.
We often talk to them about Pilates or Core Strength exercises and can guide them through some simple ways to improve their core strength. This helps them back to optimal spinal health.
The core is essentially defined by the abdominal wall, the spinal musculature, the pelvic floor and the diaphragm. In other words, the area below the ribs down to the hips is your core. There are many muscles that are essential for movement and good posture within this area and Pilates helps you to work on these.
People often talk about posture and think they have poor posture. What they mean is their ability to align all of the different parts of their body properly. Good function is more than this though because we don’t often stand still. We need good alignment or good posture whenever we move. We need a good dynamic posture. This allows the body to function normally and allows it to perform daily tasks more efficiently.
The muscles which are largely forgotten are often the most important. Many of us wish we didn’t have a flabby tummy but instead wish we had a flat “six pack”. This leads us to hold our tummies in using our six pack muscles (rectus abdominis). Unfortunately, the muscles we should be using are much deeper than this and cannot readily be seen. Developing core strength allows the correct muscles to be strong and work together well. It allows them to work to their optimum level at the right time.
By increasing the efficiency of the body’s movement and reducing the strain on the spine and joints we give our body the chance to become more flexible. It no longer has to work to hold you back from potential injury but can stretch confidently, in the right direction, supported correctly by the other muscles and can achieve better flexibility.
Because we sit for hours in front of computers or do lots of lifting in our jobs we put a great deal of strain on our body without providing it with the strength to be able to cope with those demands. We also ask it to perform tasks outside of work that are totally different to the ones it is used to doing. For example, commonly people sit at the desk all week then go and dig the garden at the weekend. Consequently many people suffer greatly with back pain.