Achieving balance in your exercise profile is something we should aim for even though it can be difficult. With so many different types of exercise available now, no one can do everything, all the time. So, chances are that you’ve carved out an exercise niche for yourself.
How Exercise Can Get Out of Balance
Maybe you’re a step-aerobics junkie, a dedicated runner, a tennis buff, or maybe you specialize in power lifting or boxing? What about the mind-body exercise craze? Are you a yoga-holic, or martial arts or Pilates maniac? Are you the one who shows up to 5 Spinning classes a week? Maybe you walk 5 km every single day, rain or snow.
It’s common to gravitate toward one or two types of exercise and stay there for years. Choosing a type of exercise you’re good at, or is most enjoyable, may be wise in the beginning phase of exercise. But, after a while, your body becomes imbalanced and your results level off.
Different Exercises, Different Results
Of course, doing different types of exercises will have different effects on your body and physiology. And it’s not only physical effects. Different types of exercise produce different mind/spirit responses as well.
Imagine how someone would feel after a Tai Chi class versus squash. One no better than the other, just different. … sculpting a different person if done routinely.
How do you feel after exercise? Refreshed? Exhausted? Empowered? Strong? Weak? Are you getting what you need?
Does your exercise help you let go or take more control? Is your exercise self-directed or directed by someone else?
Is your mind allowed to wander free during exercise or does it take concentration?
Consider these factors in planning your exercise and your workouts will support you, not drain you.
Getting Mental Balance in the Mix
For instance, if you’re a very flexible and/or introspective person and you gravitate toward yoga because you’re good at it, yoga will only make you more flexible and more introspective. It may not help you to develop you in other ways.
If you enjoy mind-body exercise, you might consider trying Pilates. This would give you more of a framework to surround your extreme flexibility.
On the other hand, if you’re very inflexible and stiff, or if you have a difficult time slowing down (type A’s), yoga or Tai Chi would be a very wise choice, even though it may feel foreign or frustrating at first.
If you’ve been doing weight training forever and have not seen the muscle definition you’d like to see, consider training different muscle fibres with boxing, or kickboxing to get those muscle to pop.
If you’re normally a control freak at work and/or at home with your family, choose a type of exercise that teaches you to let go. On the other hand, sometimes a good, hard sweat will loosen and relax you.
If you’re lacking confidence, choose exercise that helps you feel empowered. Weight training, martial arts and kickboxing are a few examples.
Adjust the Mix as You Age
As you age, your needs change. You need strength and balance training more than ever as you age.
If you have been a serious runner for years, have a type A personality and now your knees are bothering you and your hamstrings are tight as a tennis racket, it’s clearly time for a change.
The addition of yoga, Pilates, or a dedicated stretch class to the running can improve flexibility and restore balance. Substituting water aerobics or rebounding (mini trampoline) for some of the running can ease pressure on the joints.
Exercise response is very individual. It’s best to tune in to yourself and know how YOU respond to various forms of exercise.
Strategic Exercise Balance
This is more complex than simply cross training to get variety. It’s about evaluating your body type, your age, your personality, your lifestyle, and your goals to make an exercise plan that will produce balance in your life on all levels (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual).
Doing one or two types of exercise is generally fine for getting health benefits to decrease your risk of chronic disease.
Ideally, you want to achieve a supple body that looks great and is injury-free, a mind that is clear and focused, and a happy, open spirit. So re-evaluate your exercise program on an ongoing basis and make appropriate changes.
Too much of a good thing is too much. Balance your life. Balance your exercise.