If you are serious and want to change your lifestyle, if you want to reduce your pain and increase your activity levels, then you have to eat right and exercise properly.
If you have been reading my articles, then you know that if you have to ease your way into exercise. You have to get yourself into shape to start exercising at an intense level. You can’t just jump in to exercising at where you were 20 years ago and expect to pick up right where you left off. You are not that young anymore. Your body has changed and shifted. Maybe you have had a child or two, maybe you have spent the last 20 years working at a desk all day and not exercising. All of these things will change your body over time. You have more wear and tear on your body now than you did 20 years ago, or even 5 years ago. You will be much more easily injured now then you were 20 years ago.
Not to mention the fact that you don’t recover as well from insults and injuries to your body as you did 20 years ago. I feel that this is the major difference to our bodies as we age. We just don’t recover from injuries as well now as we did even a few years ago. My best example is a hangover. When I was in my early 20’s I could go out all night and drink what I wanted and wake up the next day feeling fine. Now if I stay out all night I waste the next day sleeping and recovering. Not to mention that if I have more than a few beers, I also have a headache and feel nauseous the entire next day. My body is not recovering from the toxin that is alcohol as well as my body did when I was 20.
The same can be said for exercising. You will not recover from a workout like you did when you were younger. If you haven’t worked out consistently in over a year, then even doing a small amount of exercise will make you surprisingly sore. That is why you have to start out easy, almost too easy.
That is why the proper equipment and fit of that equipment will be even more important now than it was when you were younger.
When I was younger I could play basketball in my older brother’s too-big-for-me-shoes and have no issues. Now if I were to play basketball in ill-fitting shoes I would sprain an ankle at the very least, if not hurt myself worse. When I was younger I could hop onto a smaller or larger friend’s bike and ride miles and have no ill effects from it. Now, if my bike isn’t properly fitted to my body, I will get anything from ankle to knee to hip to low back to upper back to shoulder to arm to neck pain. As we get older, an ill-fitting piece of equipment can cause injury and can cause us to have to stop exercising.
This commonly happens with elliptical machines. Most elliptical machines are different. Each manufacturer will create an elliptical machine that will have a different fit. They may have a shorter, or longer, stride length. The stride may be thinner or wider then another elliptical machine. The arm placement may be too high or too low. So on and so on.
Elliptical machines will be great for most of us to do cardio-vascular exercise with. For most of us, they will fit well and allow us to perform aerobic exercise with little to no discomfort. Even if you suffer from knee pain or arthritis, hip pain or arthritis, low back pain or arthritis, and so on, the elliptical machine is generally very easy on your body, low impact, and will allow you to do cardio without further hurting yourself.
Properly fitting shoes will also make a difference when you are exercising. If your shoes are over a year old, and you have been wearing them with some consistency, then it is time to replace them. They might still look fine, but the mid sole can be worn out and you will not be able to see it. When the mid sole wears out, then you will not have the proper support in your shoes. Every step that you take with worn out shoes will put stress on your feet, ankles, knees, hips, low back and even into your neck and shoulders. This can lead to pain and injury. Replace your shoes before they wear out. Prevent a problem from coming up before it comes up.
I ride bikes a lot. I love to ride. It is my primary source of cardio-vascular exercise. I ride anywhere from 2 to 4 times a week. I’ll ride from 1 hour to 8 hours at one time. In order to do this, my bikes must fit me properly. So in order to make sure that my bikes fit me as best as they can, I went to go see my good friend Matt Tinky at Top Gear Bike Shop in Wexford, PA. Matt has been named as one of the top 20 bike fitters in the nation.
Matt has a state of the art complex where he measures your body and measures your bike and correlates the two. He looks at everything, from cleat placement on the foot to pedal placement to seat height, to cross bar length. And once he makes a change, he lets you try it out by pedaling for 10 minutes to see how the changes feel.
Matt understands the body. He understands that when you make a change, it can take time to feel whether that change is a good thing or a bad thing. It is very similar to when you try out a new type of workout or a new piece of workout equipment. When you first try it, it is new and fun and something different, so you usually won’t feel the effects of a change right away. Usually it will take a few workouts to even 4 to 8 weeks to feel if a change is making a positive or negative difference. Very rarely do you feel a difference right away. That is one of the reasons why I recommend starting out easy, almost too easy. If you can do this then you will feel those subtle changes slowly coming on. You will feel it slowly building up if a change doesn’t feel right, or if a change is going to cause a problem.
Proper equipment, and proper fit of that equipment can make or break a workout, a routine, or even an activity. If a piece of equipment isn’t right for you, or doesn’t fit you right, it can easily cause injury. Injury will prevent you from being able to exercise and do the activities that you want to do.
By exercising intelligently you will avoid injuries that can prevent you from exercising and achieving what you want to. Take your time and make sure that your equipment fits you properly. Before you go out for a walk make sure that your shoes fit right and aren’t worn down. Before you jump on an elliptical machine, make sure it fits you correctly. Before you go for a bike ride, make sure the bike fits you properly.
Exercise intelligently. Don’t just go hard, be smart about it. Exercise intelligently and prevent issues and injuries that will derail you from exercising and achieving what you what to. Exercising intelligently will allow you to exercise consistently and long term. Consistent exercise is the only way you will see and feel a difference. Intelligent exercise does not have to be an oxymoron. Intelligently exercising is the Pain Free Way.