We are now in the tenth week of our focus on fitness program to help you enjoy even better mental and physical health from the energy and vitality that exercise provides.
With twelve weeks dedicate to a total focus on fitness it is apparent how essential this area of your life is for maintaining your long term health and wellness. Last blog post we discussed your daily sitting and standing routines and now we will focus targeting fitness with basic squatting and stepping routines.
Squatting Isn’t Just Child’s Play
Squatting is an important part of life and the next key area for people to focus for fitness. Whether it is picking up a box, a child or a suitcase it is essential to have strong muscles and good stability.
Most people have allowed their back and leg muscles to atrophy to a point that they are prone to serious hip, knee and back injuries. One of the best ways to prevent injuries and protect the back is by learning and performing proper squatting exercises. These are simple to do and can be done anywhere.
You can do squatting exercises without any support or by holding on to a bar, chair, strap or wall to help support you. It is best to begin dong squats with the assistance of a secure hand hold in order to better maintain your balance and control during the movements. Once you have fully mastered a variety of squatting exercises and maybe even some one leg squats it may be time for you to advance to squats without hand holds.
Some simple caution is advised with squats in order for you to be safe and stable.
Always do your squats in an aware, deliberate and focused state. Be sure to carefully maintain your agility and stability during the entire exercise and not overdo any phase of the movements.
If you have back, hip or knee issues it is imperative to go easy and slow to allow your body to gradually adjust and strengthen the joints and muscles. Be especially aware of the foot and knee position and keep your feet shoulder width apart and parallel to each other. Gradually build up the knee flexibility and strength by using support as needed.
Avoid any movements that cause pain and go back to basic fitness movements until your core mobility and strength improve. Prior to modern toilets everyone had to be able to squat for bowel movements so it is quite obvious that we are designed to do squats for our entire life. Our bodies are meant to be active and strong so it is imperative to regain our full abilities and range of motion in order to enjoy life to the fullest.
Expert Village Example of Air Squats
After you are comfortable with squats without hand holds you can begin to do squats with weights depending on your level of balance and strength. Doing simple squats with equal weight in each hand is a great way to strengthen the back, hip and leg muscles. An alternate way is to do squats wearing a back pack with sand bags in it. Another idea is to do a squat to pickup up a dumbbell, sandbag or suitcase and then lift it over your head.
When you do a squat exercise with a weight which you lift over your head after standing you get a full body work out. Be sure to keep your back straight and lift with your legs while you maintain your balance and stability.
Life’s Ups and Downs
The next important area many people need fitness training in is dealing with stairs and steps. Being well adapt at going with the ups and downs that come our way is crucial in life. Being balanced, flexible and strong enough to easily walk down and up hills, stairs and steps are essential life skills and some of the most important fitness and exercise routines you can participate in.
Life is full of ups, downs and uneven paths so being able to effortlessly walk on almost any terrain you encounter is important to navigate the journey of life. You can greatly enhance your agility, balance, mobility and strength by adding a variety of stairs, steps and surface variations in your training programs.
Start walking up and down hills and stairs every chance you get and even go out of your way to find them. Walking on flat sidewalks, smooth paths and streets is easy stuff. Most people are significantly challenged when going up and down stairs and over uneven terrain. While most people in the US are spoiled with elevators, escalators and even surfaces you do not want to let these modern conveniences rob you of your ability to easily enjoy life without them.
In many places around the world it is essential to be able to walk up and down stairs as well as over much longer distances to get around. You must even be prepared to carry your groceries and suitcase while doing so. Avoiding the modern mechanical contraptions when possible and training your body for negotiating the old fashion methods will keep you fit and healthy when others are fat and unhealthy. Do you want to be forced to ride a motorized cart around or would you rather walk on your own two feet for the rest of your life?
Many baby boomers and senior citizens are rapidly losing the ability to easily walk up and down hills and stairs. Without training your brain and body to easily navigate over a wide range of situations and surfaces you can easily start slipping down a path of limited freedom and mobility.
Falls are one of the greatest risks to seniors and result in many significant life changing injuries. Be sure to do your part to protect yourself from this risk and encourage the seniors in your life to apply these suggestions also. A great way to add more safety and stability is to encourage seniors to use ski, trekking or walking poles for better balance and stability. Not only does it reassure them to get out more but it also helps build the upper body strength at the same time.
Now you have some additional areas to focus on fitness for even more energy and vitality each day. You never know when you will need to squat and lift an object or go down or up a flight of stairs so these routines will help you better maintain your long term health and wellness. Our focus on fitness with basic squatting and stepping routines was designed to help you more easily and safely deal with the physical demands of life.
Mastery Actions Plan
Look at a book, DVD or video that demonstrates several squatting exercises and the proper movements.
Start doing squats using some form of hand hold until you feel confident and ready to advance to squats without a hand hold.
After you have developed a good balance, flexibility and range of motions you can progress to using weights to further improve your fitness. The same concept applies to adding more stair and step routines.
Find your comfort zone and continue to add new variations to increase your stability, stamina and strength.
Our next blog post will share: Part 11: Focus on Fitness