YOUR BEST LIFE
Tips for Living Healthy in South Arkansas
Manager, JRMC Wellness Centers
If you asked several people to make a list of what they DO want to happen at the gym, you would get a wide variety of answers. If you asked those same individuals to list what they DO NOT want to happen at the gym, most (if not all) would say, “get hurt”. Injury in the gym is a legitimate concern. The reasons are different between beginners and “old hats”, but both are easily addressed.
We live in an instant gratification society where we want results yesterday! This leads to many newbies suffering from common maladies such as eagerness, impatience, and a lack of knowledge – all of which can lead to injury. Eagerness to learn about exercise and fitness can lead to improved health. Eagerness to begin the process is important because the first few weeks or months may be fraught with questions and possible setbacks. However, impatience combined with a lack of knowledge will, almost always, cause problems. Pulls, sprains, and strains are all too common. Running, twisting, squatting, cycling, and pushing heavy objects may all be things we’ve done before. Nevertheless, that doesn’t make you an experienced exerciser any more than shooting a few baskets makes you prepared to go one on one with LeBron James.
If you are going to do these activities repetitively (and that’s what all exercise is, to some degree), you certainly need to know how to do them right. And just as I hope you wouldn’t go to your electrician with questions about your teeth, I urge you to seek out exercise advice from an exercise professional or another appropriate forum.
“Proper form” is a phrase thrown around pretty freely at most fitness facilities, but that’s not because it’s a cliché, it’s because it’s important! Positioning of the body during exercise is critical to ensure that muscles and joints move through the paths they were designed to. Some of these positions may not be as natural as you think they should be, so listening to the advice of a trained group exercise instructor or other exercise professional, and then following their suggestions, will go a long way toward keeping you safe. Start slowly, learn what you’re doing, and know what to expect out of your body. You’ll be safer, and much more likely to persevere. And perseverance is the only way to reach goals.
That brings us to the old hat. This is an individual who has “been there, done that”. They’ve been working out long enough to have sustained a few lumps and bumps. The injuries these individuals are more likely to sustain are chronic in nature. Their muscles and joints have seen years, maybe decades, of rigorous use and wear. Form isn’t the issue it once was. What is most important to keep this population healthy is warm-up and rest. Enthusiasm should be tempered with experience and wisdom. Knees, shoulders, and lower backs age along with the rest of our bodies. Proper exercise can do much to help keep them resilient and functioning well, but it will not stop the aging process. Be mindful that warm-ups should take a little longer than it once did and so should recovery.
Becoming healthier is more like a long road trip than a drag race. And while exercise MUST be a part of that trip, you have to know where you’re going so that you can obtain directions on how to get there. If staying safe isn’t a priority, then the journey will be short … and maybe perilous!
The JRMC Wellness Centers, located in Pine Bluff and White Hall, offer a variety of fitness options for all ages and interests. Free weights, machines, cardio equipment, personal trainers and a full schedule of Les Mills classes are available at both facilities. For more information call the Pine Bluff (541-7890) or White Hall (850-8000) facility.