Lately I have found myself sitting much more than I would like to or would have thought possible. More hours in front of the computer, helping kids with homework and sitting in traffic and in all reality, all I really want to do is move!
How many of you can relate?
An athlete came to me a few weeks ago asking what she could do at work when she had a few minutes and wanted to move but was in work clothes and could not get sweaty or take the time for a formal workout.
There are more and more studies that point to all the negative effects of inactivity on your body and even your brain that can come from long periods of sitting and inactivity. Did you know too much sitting can cause a decrease in energy (no excuse that you are resting to have more energy), a decrease in metabolism (even for those who work out regularly), back and spine issues, muscle imbalance issues (think of some of hamstring and hip flexor issues you or your friends may have), lack of focus and ability to concentrate and even depression. EEK!
Sometimes however, there just isn't a choice.
Since this was first brought up I have had some interesting conversations about what various people do when they get an itch to move and don’t have time to change or even get (that) sweaty.
You may have noticed some new and very simple exercises popping up on your assigned strength routines. What muscle are we targeting? We spend a lot of time worrying about engaging glutes, working on developing better core and overall strength but forget how much work these muscles do for us when we walk, climb stairs, bike, and run.
Did you figure it out yet?
Your calf muscles. These muscles in your lower legs do a lot of work all day every day and with running they lift the heel about 1500 times per mile. Adding in calf strength training exercises and stretching can keep you ticking along doing all the activities you love day in and day out.
Muscle Matters! Here is exercise number five of our top five exercises for maintaining strength.
Oh sure, there’s is nothing more stereotypical than a bicep curl! And yet this basic exercise which works the front of your upper arms is important for daily movements as simple as picking up a bag of groceries. Working this muscle is also critical to holding up your forearms as you run. Have you ever tried to run without your arms? As the legs fatigue or when running uphill we rely even more on our arms. Developing muscle endurance in your upper body can be invaluable to keep you going.
Adding in a single leg balance with this exercise forces more attention to engaging your glutes and core and provides balance-training practice. Balance training is not usually something that we think of until we are much older and overall poor balance and strength contribute to falls and injury. Adding balance training to your usual strength training regiment now is a great way to make sure you are maintaining this critical component of daily living.
In general most of us do a lot of activities where we hunch forward and it is really important to make sure we are doing strength work to counteract that. Think through your day and see where your posture suffers. Doing computer work? Gardening? Driving? Reading your tablet or even a book? Writing? Running?
This exercise only requires dumbbells and can counteract all the hunching we do and focus on the often neglected shoulders and upper back.
Strong upper back muscles can help balance shoulder strength to protect our shoulders. As runners these muscles are very important as there is a direct link between upper back muscle fatigue and a breakdown in form which can result in possible injury.