There are many advantages to inversion therapy, including some advantages that most people don’t think about. Inversion tables, chairs, and even gravity boots are well known for helping people to reduce back pain, relieve stress in your ligaments and muscles, and help you build your core muscles; however, not too many people concentrate on how inversion therapy can help even those with injuries unrelated to back pain.
This was brought to my attention when a good friend of mine came to me yesterday. He was asking about what he could do for an injury that he got while playing a basketball game – he landed extremely hard on the ball of his foot (the front part, not the back). He has been limping around for about 2 days now, and he noticed that his whole body was starting to tighten up, leaving him with a little bit of lower back pain along with some pain in his upper and lower legs.
Like I told him, this is a perfect example of when someone who has an injury unrelated to back pain create and cause back problems – problems that could be prevented by using an inversion therapy table for just 5 or 10 minutes a day. The fact is, my friend is having problems because he is being forced to favor one side of his body, which is messing up his core muscles and balance and putting extra stress on certain parts of his back. This in turn is causing his muscles to tighten and cause pain. By simply inverting for a few minutes he could stretch out those tight muscles very effectively, thus immediately reducing his pain. In addition, he could do some basic swing stretches and other exercises that would stretch out and build the core muscles up so he wouldn’t have those problems either long-term or short-term.
If you are thinking of joining a gym, don’t.
I’m not joking.
January is the very worst time to join a gym – it will be crowded, full to bursting with new gym-goers, fresh from making their New Year’s resolutions and you won’t be able to move easily from machine to machine. You might love the atmosphere at the gym by March and might even enjoy going but the crowds in January will put you off like nothing else.
Also, if you think you truly want to join a gym, consider whether you have enough commitment to keep going after January is out. For most people it is a complete waste of money. 80% of the people who join a gym in January never go much beyond February (if they even last that long).
Though you think the pain of paying for something and not using it will make you go – it doesn’t seem to work for most people. The pain of going to the gym seems to be bigger than the pain of paying for it!
If you think you want to become a regular gym goer, think about what a commitment that is. How much time will it take you to get to the gym, get changed, work out and get showered and home again, three or more times a week? What will you NOT do to make time for that? And if you don’t think you will have to give anything up, then think again so that you can be ready for how much time will disappear rather than surprised!
If you still think you want to join a gym, prove to yourself that you are committed to fitness…
Keep up a non-gym exercise routine for two months and then reward yourself with gym membership. You can work out with weights at home (the weights will cost less than a gym membership) and you can run or walk for cardio training.
Better still take up an exercise you will love, something where they won’t be able to keep you away, like dancing or skating or rock climbing – whatever floats your boat.
I feel that walking has had a bad press among exercisers. After all, it can’t be real exercise, can it…
- if you don’t have to get yourself to a gym
- if you don’t have to learn complicated moves with state of the art equipment
- if you don’t have to get showered immediately afterwards
- if you don’t even need to change your clothes before you begin ?
Yet regular walkers are some of the fittest and healthiest people around and they rarely suffer the injuries and set backs of runners, joggers and regular gym goers.
Usually at this time of year I am thinking about starting to run as training for an annual charity race – the Race for Life. Then as I get going I decide I hate running and never run again after the race until the same time next year.
This year I’ve decided to add a regular walk to my fitness routine instead and see how I like that as a “rest of my life” activity. It feels right as I will be following in the footsteps of my Dad who walked every day of his adult life until he died last year aged 86 – staying fit until the very end.
Walking is great for weight loss too of course. Though that’s not my primary motive in taking up this form of exercise, I have some clients who follow a weight loss walking program I put together and find this the very best way to lose weight and keep it off. It will do me no harm to join them – especially as I have eaten so much after Christmas….
The idea of a 4 minute workout is very appealing. Let’s get it all done in 4 minutes and get on with your life.
I came across this fitness video today which is meant to be a 4 minute workout for beginners.
No beginners I ever met could manage this 4 minute exercise program, so please don’t even try unless you are reasonably fit!
But if you are why not give it a go…
If this 4 minute workout looks too strenuous for you, yet you want to get fit without taking up much time, my Fitness in No Time program will be much more to your liking
It seems that the more time we spend in a car the fatter we become.
Over time we’ve simply got too used to driving a couple of blocks to run an errand when we could get there under our own steam.
And it’s funny, what do we do when we arrive? We drive around for 5 minutes trying to get a “decent” parking spot – the one that will mean we need the fewest steps possible to get to our destination.
We do all that – and then find we have to join a gym to keep fit and lose weight.
Now I know, some of the distances you travel are probably longer than a couple of blocks but I’m sure you get the picture. Could you do even a little more walking?
Research has shown that at least half the journeys made by car in urban areas are for 3 miles or less (and 41% are less than 2 miles).
It’s not that we can not walk – in fact going everywhere in a car is a modern phenomenon. It’s as if we can’t find our way anywhere under our own steam. It has become the default that we don’t even think to question.
Well why not question it from now on? Every time! Always ask yourself
- could I walk there (safely) or could I carry out the same errand on foot (say at my local store rather than an out of town mega huge faceless store)?
- could I park a little further away?
- could I enjoy my journey more by walking/cycling and getting in touch with what is going on in my local area?
- could walking/cycling mean that I can combine my keep fit routine with my chores today and save myself a bundle of time?
And remember if you are stuck driving in your car a lot you can still get some exercise – remember the 4 Easy Car Exercises post from a few weeks ago
I’m sure it’s not news to you that working out and eating right can make you younger.
But it’s all a question of degrees. A plateful of broccoli and a gentle stroll in the park once a week are not going to keep any drooping and disintegrating at bay (though they won’t do any harm).
And yet it’s no good overdoing it and making your life one long chore of worthy eating and exercise either. (They do say enjoying yourself and feeling happy keeps you young too).
So how much is enough to push back the years?
Lodge says “If someone who is sedentary really commits to exercising six days a week, he would be something like 10 or 15 years younger in the functional respect within a year.”
And according to Crowley that commitment consists of relentless, steady exercise including strength training and aerobics six days a week, 45 minutes a day.
In many respects, it’s really not much to combat all the signs of aging we don’t want to see, although of course, you may need to work up to that level if you’re not there already.
How does exercise help combat aging?
According to Lodge, the cells in our body turn over all the time and each time they regenerate they can become a little stronger or a little weaker. Exercise is key to that switch. Along with avoiding the worst dietary excesses. The big culprits in the march towards old age are sugars, simple starches (such as those found in white bread and pasta) and saturated fats.
Of course, the authors have one view about the level of exercise required but not everyone agrees. Some research carried out in the 70s which is the basis for my Fitness in No Time program shows that as little as 10 minutes three times a week can be enough the keep us healthy well into old age.
If you have 45 minutes 6 times a week then I believe it’s a good idea to do that amount of exercise – why not? It will make you feel and look great. You know it will!
But if weeks go by and you’re just not getting out for a run or managing to hit the gym then 10 minutes three times a week of the right exercises sure beats getting old.
***Many Thanks to Gonzalo Haro for that striking image of him aging from 29 to 89!***
When I was a project manager a few years ago, working flat out, I often didn’t make a gym session I’d planned. Sometimes I didn’t make the three gym sessions I planned for the whole week.
Either there would be a sudden meeting called about some triviality over lunchtime (my gym time) or there’d be a real crisis that needed dealing with.
When I got home I’d be too tired to go out again and there was only once I was organized enough to go to the gym in the morning before work.
Now that I work from home and set my own timetable I have to find other excuses
But seriously, if you are going to get a fit, healthy toned body you have to find some way to fit exercise in around your work and the rest of your life.
There is no way you are just going to “find” the time to exercise – it has to be found. You are not going to get more than 24 hours in a day so if you want to spend an hour exercising, then something that you were going to spend an hour on is not going to get done. You get to decide what that is – although your boss may have something to say about it if you decide it’s an hour of work!
What are you prepared to give up to feel fit, toned and top of the world?
An hour of rubbish on TV? An hour of lounging about? An hour on the phone or PC? An hour of sleep?
Maybe when I worked in that office I should have always had a plan B for my lunchtime exercise – and followed that Plan B no matter what. I just didn’t get around to it and exercise time was always the first thing to suffer when I got busy – which was most of the time.
I do know that this was one of the many reasons I left my job in the end. Some things are just too important to ignore.
It feels great to get your workout over and done with in one session by combining a cardio and muscle training session at the gym.
But if you would like to burn maximum fat, get fit AND strengthen up you are better to work on your fitness and on your muscles in separate sessions rather than working them both on the same day.
That’s because research has shown overall calorie expenditure to be greater when you separate your workouts. It seems you get a metabolic boost each time you work out – and so combining sessions is counter-productive if you want to burn fat.
If you have too many time constraints to work out on separate days, be sure to carry out your weight training first while glycogen stores are highest to make better gains in strength.
Interval training is the way to go if you can only manage a 20 minute exercise session but you want all the fitness benefits of a much longer session.
Why is that?
In a long session your body will make the most effort at the start of the session while it gets used to the level of exertion you are asking of it.
If that intensity doesn’t change throughout the session, your heart reaches a “steady state” after a short time and it does not have to make as much effort/expend as much energy to maintain your pace.
You are then coasting along for the remainder of the session – making an effort, of course but not really pushing yourself or using as much energy as you could.
With interval training you work at a higher intensity in intervals with a more moderate recovery pace between bursts. The bursts of higher intensity exercise can last from as little as 30 seconds to as much as a few minutes with the moderate intensity periods being just enough to recover from your high level exertion – usually about one and a half to twice as long. So you might jog for 2 minutes and then run at top speed for a minute and then recover by jogging for two minutes before picking up the pace again.
With this pattern your heart does not reach a steady state – every time you have a burst of higher intensity exercise your heart rate is elevated again and as a result you use more energy to keep your body moving throughout the session, not just during the higher intensity bursts.
If you follow this pattern for 20 minutes you will find that you use as many calories as you would in a much longer session and you will become fitter faster. As well as training your heart, intervals help build new capillaries within your cardiovascular system giving a boost to your endurance. All those new blood vessels mean that you will be better able to take in oxygen as well as deal with the waste products of exercise such as the lactic acid which causes burning and sore muscles.
Whatever is happening in the world you know that within the next 3 months you could be as fit as Madonna if you put your mind to it, don’t you? And you can feel like a million dollars, credit crunch or no credit crunch.
All things being equal it’s better to be awash with cash than poor as a church mouse, of course. But the wealthy are often trapped in unhealthy bodies whereas you can feel on top of the world for no money at all. See 27 ways to get fit for free if you’re short on ideas on how to get fit when money is tight.
You certainly don’t need a personal trainer (but don’t let me stop you if you can afford one!) and you don’t need a gym (especially one you keep promising yourself you’ll go to but never do). The most important thing you need is motivation to just get out there and do it. And that costs nothing at all.
Being super fit is just one way of staying in control in a world which seems to have been a bit uncontrollable lately. Fitness is something you can do for yourself no matter what happens “out there”!