Fitness or any activity generally has a positive effect on the mind and body. I say generally since activity can injure, or hamper movement. We need to understand that aging is closely related to a lack of movement. If our ancestors could not hunt or gather, they starved. If you cannot get out of bed, you cannot eat. Lack of movement means a reduction in lean body mass, and bones. It also changes HOW you move since walking, climbing, running, squatting, and lifting are skills and what you won’t or can’t do,…you will not be able to do.
The opposite end of the spectrum would be excessive or forceful movement. This can be part of daily life if you have an active occupation, or in the field of sports or athletic training. The body can repair damage to an incredible degree, but the ability to dig down deep in the well finds a shallower and shallower reserve as the years go on.
Smart training practices can be a panacea if they are started early enough. The foundation of proper skills, joint mobility, flexibility, strength through a full range of motion, restorative techniques, and the use of mental drills can minimize down time for the aggressive enthusiast. Remember, training should not cause injury, but prevent it. Training practices that border on stupid, are just that,..stupid. Competition is different since you are quite often pushing envelope of collagen and calcium durability. Injury is part of the game and you have to ask yourself if the glory of victory or records is worth limping around in middle age as your “brisk walk three times a week” friend passes you on the par course. It can be quite embarrassing to have that blonde bombshell bride as you marry in mid life only to be unable to carry her over the threshold. The same goes for a wrestling match with your teen age sons when daddy has to tap out since his trick knee is demonstrating 194 degrees of extension.
The body is an amazing tool, and the parameters of its expression are truly remarkable. What if there was one more tool to keep it sharp? The readers of this article are no doubt information junkies and try to keep up with all the latest strategies. This may include nutrition, rehabilitation, technical performance, and many more. One area is using the nervous system. This can be a general term that covers both technical skills like a tennis serve, or training your genetic boundaries of neurological efficiency to be working at their optimums. I am venturing into some interesting territory here by saying it is time to Re-Wire your body.
Most people generally understand that leaning a new skill a very important trick against aging. This can be taking courses, doing crosswords, painting, writing, learning languages, or just new physical art forms like dance or sport. In the strength focused activities it can mean attempting a new strength sport like Olympic Lifting, Strongman Competition, or Rock Climbing. It can even mean rotating a wide variety of assistance exercises and pushing them hard to allow a type of cyclical adaptation effect. The brain and nervous system has to adapt as well as the muscles. New ‘rivers’ are formed. Pathways of data are processed and your brain is reattached to the muscle machinery in ways that are entirely new. You are essentially doing crosswords for your lean body mass. But lets take it a step further. What do you do more in terms of volume, depress the gas pedal or squat? Walk or do bench presses? Eat with a fork, or do chin ups? It is quite often everyday activities that hurt us the most. That thick wallet that jacks your low back when you drive, or that bad chair at work that shortens your hamstrings. It can be positioning a carry on bag over one shoulder continuously for years that creates that permanent neck ache. It is the small stuff that counts and as they say, “It’s always something”.
Here is a list of tools and tips that is open ended. Please add to it. The idea is to break the daily patterns, change up the small things and begin to add new lines of information to your muscles to shuffle the neurological deck.
1. Climb stairs starting with your opposite foot.
2. Eat with opposite hand.
3. Cross your legs in reverse.
4. Shave with the other hand.
5. Run part of your course backwards.
6. Pick up small objects with your toes.
7. Put on pants starting with your other leg.
8. Balance on one foot while on the phone.
9. Use and dial your cell phone with the other ear and hand.
10. Read magazines starting with the last article.
11. Change shoes frequently.
12. Get down with children and crawl.
13. Use the computer mouse in the other hand.
14. Rearrange your furniture every week.
15. Take a different way to work.
16. Use different grocery stores, Starbucks, and malls.
17. Dial the phone and don’t use the memory dial.
18. Squat to pick things up and don’t bend.
19. Practice activities with your eyes closed.
20. Write occasionally with your non dominate hand.
This is only the beginning, but let it be the spark that lights the fire of innovation.