1) Flexibility exercises.
Chronic musculoskeletal pain is an epidemic. Nearly everyone has experienced back pain at some stage in their life. Chronic musculoskeletal pain occurs because our bodies don’t get adequate motion. Our bodies are designed for movement. Unless we maintain range of motion, flexibility and core strength we get pain and stiffness, rounding of our back and shoulders, and malaligned hips. This results in poor lung function and reduced tissue oxygenation.
If we don’t use our core muscles of stability, they atrophy. When they are subsequently called upon, they are inadequate and their function has to be performed by larger peripheral muscles. These muscles are not designed for that job and pain and dysfunction result.
Musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis should not be an inevitable part of ageing. Nor should reliance on anti-inflammatory medication, hip replacements, knee replacements and spinal fusions. These are all treatments designed to suppress symptoms, which don’t address underlying biomechanical causes.
To ensure health, vitality and longevity it is imperative that we maintain optimum lung function, tissue oxygenation, range of motion and core muscle strength. Recommended exercises include:
- Tai Chi
- Qi Gong
- Egoscue exercises as described in the books “Pain-Free” and “The Egoscue Method of Health through Motion” by Pete Egoscue.
Choose one you enjoy the most and start tomorrow. Don’t delay. Just make sure that you are under the supervision of a properly trained and certified instructor. They can be done daily if you have the time, otherwise alternating with your aerobic exercise.
2) Aerobic Exercise
Appropriate aerobic exercise has numerous health benefits. It improves cardiovascular function, reduces cholesterol, aids in the elimination of toxins and metabolic acids, releases endorphins which improve mood, reduces stress, increases insulin sensitivity, strengthens bones, maintains a healthy weight, increases intrinsic growth hormone secretion, improves memory and can enhance the immune system. It also gives you energy.
Many people misinterpret their tiredness as a sign that they need rest, when their bodies are actually crying out for movement. Controlled, aerobic exercise where our muscles burn fat for energy rather than sugar is best. Imagine your car as having two fuel tanks. The first is a large tank with a clean, slow burning fuel supplying a constant source of energy. The second is a much smaller tank filled with an explosive, pollution producing, quickly exhausted fuel designed for emergencies.
You wouldn’t run your car continuously with fuel from the small tank. However, that’s what we do with our bodies when we use sugar foods and carbohydrate stores for fuel rather than fat stores. We need to train our bodies by correct nutrition and exercise to use fat as our energy source.
3) Anaerobic Exercise
Anaerobic exercise means resistance training. Unlike aerobic training, where the primary energy source is oxygen, anaerobic training uses ATP. It builds muscle mass and avoids the muscle loss associated with aging (sarcopenia). With increased muscle mass, metabolic rate is increased, blood pressure lowered, and bone density increased.
The best time to exercise is first thing in the morning because your metabolic rate and mental alertness remain high for the rest of the day. Get out of bed earlier, spend 45 minutes in controlled aerobic exercise, shower and then meditate for 15 minutes. Your body will spend the rest of the day at a higher metabolic rate while your mind spends the day more alert, focused and calm.
Learn to enjoy exercise for the multitude of benefits it brings. Make it a way of life. Your body will thank you.