What does it mean to be well? We all know that being well is a matter of eating right and being active. Often times when we think of the latter we have mental images of jumping jacks and/or sweating profusely, neither of which conjures up positive feelings for most of us. However, being active does not have to create pain and/or discomfort nor do we have to work up a major sweat. Maybe a glisten, but not a major sweat!
Non-jarring movements that serve to increase your heart rate, elevate your rate breathing a little bit and take the major joints through their range-of-motion are enough, and have been shown to have a host of benefits.
People of all ages find an active lifestyle difficult to master, and even more difficult to maintain. In addition, health challenges often make these efforts seem almost impossible. It is often these very challenges, many of which tend to be heart-related, that encourage individuals to pursue the idea of being more active. Those who face the challenge by becoming physically active are more-often-than-not pleasantly surprised as to how quickly they come to realize health-related transformations taking place such as increased energy, strength, balance, mobility, lung function and reduced aches and pains often related to common chronic conditions such as arthritis and back pain.
However, some have a difficult time getting started due to looming concerns such as which exercise is right for me? Where should I start? How much is too much? etc. The answer is good communication, starting with a health care provider. He or she can often provide information in terms of where to start and will often offer specific programming recommendations for specific problems (i.e. back exercises/stretches for back pain). A referral may then be made to see a fitness professional (i.e. physical therapist, personal trainer or even attending a class whose instructor specializes in a certain area such as individuals with limitations) who has experience working with individuals who have similar health challenges.
If your choice is to go to an activity class, be prepared to visit with your instructor. He or she should not only be willing to make time for your questions and exhibit good listening skills, but needs to be able to answer your questions in a knowledgeable way expressing a genuine interest/concern for your questions/concerns. You should observe a sense of confidence in your instructor, and an ever-present passion regarding the idea of empowering you to enhanced levels of functional fitness.
Pre-and-post program assessments are a great asset as well. These assessments may be in-depth, or as simple as checking range-of-motion and various elements of strength. This information has proven to be invaluable in the scope of getting off to a good start, and staying motivated. Regardless of whether you choose to attend a class or work one-on-one with a trainer, watch to see that your instruction includes modifications for the various exercises performed and that his or her priority is obvious to your health and safety.
Exercise can be a remedy, an elixir if you will, for a wide variety of chronic health conditions. Talk to your health care provider and/or a FP.
Communicate an interest in finding your niche in terms of being physically active. Communicate your needs because functional fitness is not an option, it is necessary for quality of life. Research has shown the old saying move it or lose it to be all too true. Make the move now, take the physically active steps necessary to improve your functional fitness today. One way, call your local community center to find out about classes that are currently being offered.
ANNOUNCEMENT for those in-and-around the Cedar Falls area: The Cedar Falls Community Center has 2 new functional fitness classes, facilitated by FitXpress. The instructor, Nikki Carrion, comes to the classes with over 25 years of experience and a unique level of passion for the field of health promotion. The classes meet on MWF mornings, and touch on all of the guidelines mentioned in this article. The classes are distinctly different, but both are designed for older adults and/or those who may have certain limitations. There are NO age limitations, and classes are FREE to try out for those interested. In addition, each class includes a scheduled BONUS 15-minute Health Talk. Health Talks will be an ongoing supplement to these classes. There are only a few seats left, so don't wait. For more details, or to ask a question, call Nikki; 319-404-4219.