Creating a Balanced Fitness Routine

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January 6, 2015

As we enter a new year with new intentions and motivation, it’s a great time to review and assess our fitness routines. We always want to get the greatest benefit for our time and effort, right? Here are some points to consider!

Generally speaking a well-balanced fitness routine includes:

  • aerobic (cardio),
  • muscular strength (muscle building, definition, balance and coordination),
  • flexibility (joint range of motion and posture), and
  • well-being enhancing (stress relieving) exercise.

The proportion of each depends upon individual goals and needs.

For example, to promote weight loss the focus should be on aerobic exercise but for osteoporosis the focus would be geared toward strength and flexibility. For blood pressure reduction, a combination of cardio and yoga.

Aerobic/Cardiovascular activities include walking, jogging, running, swimming, hiking, biking, dancing, rowing etc… In the gym, cardio equipment options are ellipticals, spin bikes, recumbent and stationary cycles, treadmills, rowing ergometers, and any other repetitive movement that elevates heart rate.

Strength Training or muscle building activities include free weights, strength machines (Cybex, Nautilus, etc..), TRX Suspension training, and body weight exercises (push ups and sit ups).

Flexibility/Stretching can be achieved in Yoga or by using myofascial release techniques with the foam roller or tennis balls.

Pilates and Yoga are methods that combine strength, flexibility, postural and well-being. Some styles of yoga may also be aerobic.

Circuit training and a variety of gym classes combine both strength and cardio into one exercise session.

Men tend to spend more time strength training leaving little time for stretching, while women lean towards more cardio exercise and much less strength training.

The next time you head to the gym, consider dividing your time evenly. I love the 20/20/20 principle – 20 minutes of cardio, 20 minutes of strength training, and 20 minutes of stretching. Or, use the same principle to plan your entire week with 1/3 of your time spent in each area.

If you’re still not sure, consult with a Fitness professional. A Clinical Fitness Assessment is a great way to determine your current status and have an exercise prescription designed that will meet your specific personal needs.

Most importantly, try to do something every day, even if just for a few minutes, and find activities that you really enjoy and make you feel good!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Since I get bored easily, and I’m not aiming for a major long-term goal like running a marathon, I constantly mix up what I do. That’s also a good way to avoid straining any one set of muscles. So for instance, over the course of a week, it would be reasonable to spin once, ellipticize once, and run once, and do pilates or yoga twice, with maybe a brief strength session. The pilates and yoga ‘counts’ toward balance, strength and flexibility. I’ve enjoyed incorporating Jody’s combinations of sit-ups/abdominals and pushups for more core and strength work. However you choose to organize your routine, make sure you feel good at the end of it. That will keep you coming back for more! Let us know if you have other ideas about combining exercises –MJS