By: Kevin Chapman
Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Elite Training Systems and Holistic Nutritionist
Let’s face it, humans are meant to move and move often. I still see far too many people both young and old who make the conscious decision to be sedentary. Most often it’s a lack of knowledge on what should be done in the weight room, but more often than not it is a lack of internal drive. The sad reality is that most people wait until there is a problem until they decide to make changes. I recently listened to a Podcast from Kelly Starett called ‘sitting is the new smoking’ the premise of this podcast was how our society is getting less active by the minute and we are paying for it with more illness and injury. Fitness programs as complex as they can be do not need to be that way; any movement is better than none at all. Everyone should be doing something active every single day even if it’s for 15 minute; if it’s important to you, you will find the time. Here are five tips on how anyone can improve and be better:
Have a plan stick with it and be specific: If there is no plan there will be no action. Saying things like ‘I don’t have time’ or I’ll do it tomorrow’ are negative and will set you up for failure. Make it a habit to outline your entire week and what you will be doing on each day at a specific time. Instead of saying I am going to walk for 15 minutes tomorrow say I am going to walk for 15 minutes at 6pm tomorrow and put it in your calendar like an appointment so it doesn’t get missed. If you are unsure of what to do invest in a trainer who can coach you and provide some guidance even if it’s short term.
Start light and progress gradually: I am a big believer of being all in on anything you do. There is no middle ground if you decide to commit to something you better have a plan and stick with it. That being said, you also need to be smart and realistic with the goal and the path too it. Too often I see people wanting to start a training plan and they do too much too soon. Start very light and progress slow so that your body can adapt and the body doesn’t break down. The key is staying consistent. If you try and go all out week one chances are you will be too sore to make it through week 2. It’s a good idea to start with a good movement plan and keep volume low. Even if you do a little bit of static stretching and walking to start, it’s a good place to start and you can progress when ready.
Movement first: Quality movement is the foundation of any well designed strength and conditioning plan. Creating good movement patterns is critical before loading them. Weight training is an essential component to any fitness plan but make sure you are selecting the right exercises for you and that they are being executed correctly. There are a lot of ‘fitness experts’ out there these days, it is easy to go online and watch videos and search programs but that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. If your program starts with simple mobility exercises with your own body weight that’s a good starting point. I even do this with professional athletes after they come back from a long season. Remember that a well-designed training plan is progressive and only advances when the person is ready. If you are unsure, see a professional for some guidance.
Pick up a recreational activity: Recreational sports are a great way to get active. There are endless options out there for active adults. These are ideal for people who are often pinched for time. It’s a great way to not only be active but get out in the community and interact with other people and have some fun in the process. We live in Canada, we are lucky that we have the ability to play most summer sports year round with all of the indoor facilities and leagues, but we also get to try winter sports; get outside and try something new this winter.
Get up and move around at work: Most people these days are plagued by desk jobs that require them to sit for extended periods of time. That does not mean that you can’t take small breaks every half an hour to stand up move and stretch for 3 minutes so that you aren’t stuck in bad posture. Get up and fill your water bottle at the water cooler, use the washroom one floor down from you, take the stairs, park further away than normal; these are all options for you to get up and move more. I get it, work needs to get done, but sitting for long periods of time is not good for the spine or the rest of the body. Get up and move as often as possible.
Follow these tips and you will see immediate changes. Don’t focus on changing too many things at once. Start light, progress slow and work on changing one thing at a time. In my next post, I will be outlining an easy mobility routine that can be done daily that anyone can do. Let’s start the new year off on the right foot and move!