Saturday, February 7, 2009

Healthy moderation 1: exercise ideals

There is a precipice that we must try to balance on with weight lifting, and all other forms of exercise. What is this hilltop that we must straddle? It's finding the right amount for you. With weight lifting it is being able to have good form while challenging yourself. If you have good form, but feel that you could go on doing reps for hours, then the weight is probably not heavy enough. If you feel exhausted at the end of three sets, but can only make it through by sacrificing your form, then you are trying to lift too heavy a weight. The right amount of weight is the one that can be performed for three sets with good form and feel as though you couldn't lift it any more by the end of the third set.
Running has a similar balance. How far can you run and how fast without sacrificing your form? If you are able to keep good form, but feel that it is not challenging, you are probably not running far enough or fast enough. If you can run a long distance at a good clip, but your form is very sloppy, you are putting yourself at risk for injuries. The right way to run for best results is to run at a challenging pace and distance that you can perform with the correct form.
The balance of form and challenge is also seen with yoga. If you can attain an asana, but only after sacrificing your breathing rhythm you are trying to do too much. On the other hand if you can keep the rhythm of your breath, but don't feel any stretch, you are not challenging yourself enough. The right balance is the one which is challenging for you, but not so challenging that you can't breathe properly. It's never a good idea to hold your breath while exercising, it may lead to the embarrassment of passing out.
Healthy moderation in exercise is finding the balance of form and challenge. You know your body better than anyone and can fine tune this over time until it is easy because it becomes habitual. Making a concerted effort to balance these two elements will lead to a healthier body with less injuries in the long run.


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Heavy Metal Yogi by Nick Matthaes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.