Sunday, January 24, 2010

Stretching my Miles

Running is my thing. Some people cycle, attend yoga classes, lift weights, or engage in another specific activity of choice to keep fit and have fun, but running is my favorite. I love it for its simplicity and low cost. You can run anywhere - all you need is a pair of sneakers. Most of all, I just love that “runner’s high.” I’d run everyday, but my knee won’t allow it. I cross train in many different activities, especially hiking, rollerblading, swimming, and spin classes. I enjoy them all and soon I hope to add mountain biking to this list. This still is not good enough.

Throughout history, cardiovascular fitness (mainly in the form of running!) has been part of our daily lives. It began as a necessity and progressed into a leisure activity as humans faced less danger. We used to have to chase after our food, run away from becoming food, and run for transportation (Pheidippides’s 26.2 mile run that begot the marathon). Similarly, strength training was part of our everyday life. Exercise patterns have diverged and we choose a physical activity based on enjoyment instead of survival.

Although there is an enormous variety of physical activities practiced, they can each be categorized as one of three basic forms; strength training (weights, resistance), cardiovascular (running, cycling), and stretching (palates, yoga). It is ideal to engage in all three, but most of us gravitate towards one kind. This is a bad trend. Some form of cardiovascular fitness is crucial, even for someone who is slender and wants to gain muscle mass. The heart is a muscle; the best way to give it a work out is through cardiovascular fitness. Stretching prevents injury and promotes balance. Strength training helps prevent injuries, tones and strengthens muscles, and improves performance.

Strength training is not my thing, but I do it. Stretching... well, I could work on incorporating a few yoga classes into my week. We all need to embrace each form of physical fitness for optimum performance and injury prevention.

See you on the yoga mat.

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