Is a sedentary lifestyle killing you? Are you gaining weight, developing neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, back problems, or other health issues that are interfering with your ability to achieve your goals or live life to the fullest? Sedentary Lifestyle Syndrome (SLS) ™ is one of the fastest growing health care crises of our time. In this digital age of techno-overload, where most of our waking hours are spent sitting, or otherwise “connected” to some device, we are quickly realizing the negative effects. If you can answer yes to the following questions, you may be suffering from SLS.
- Do you sit for at least 6-8 hours per day without adequate breaks?
- Have you gained significant weight from lack of exercise and poor nutrition?
- Do you suffer from headaches, fatigue, listlessness, and lack of motivation?
- Have you been diagnosed with one or more health issues aggravated by prolonged sitting and lack of movement? (i.e.: Obesity, depression, heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome)
Excerpt:Remember the good ole days when the adage “No pain—no gain” was popular? I was raised with that school of thought. I learned it in my years of PT practice, in my figure skating and martial arts life, and in the school of hard knocks. I was a pain junky! As a Marine friend used to say, “Pain is good, extreme pain is extremely good.” Well, now I’m here to tell you that it’s a load of crap! This kind of thinking is responsible for more injuries, failed diets, and aversion to exercise than any of the million excuses we can come up with not to take care of ourselves. In all fairness, living a healthy lifestyle is no walk in the park (pardon the pun), but it doesn’t have to be punishing either. Deprivation, lack of true motivation, and physical discomfort are recipes for avoidance. If you believe you have to “hurt” or feel pain to benefit from exercise, I guarantee you won’t be looking forward to it. Yes, exercise should be hard work and you’ll need to exert yourself to see changes in weight or fitness level, but if, after an exercise routine, you can’t climb stairs, get up off the toilet seat, or brush your teeth without your muscles squealing the next day, you’ve clearly done too much. If you experience sharp shooting pains, numbness or tingling, or become so winded you can’t hold a conversation though your workout, you need to back off and modify your program. Get rid of that “all or none” thinking and adopt a new message.
“Some is better than none. More is not better.”Understanding the difference between “pain” and “muscle burn” is essential for developing and maintaining a safe, effective exercise routine. First off, you need to work within a pain-free range of motion. Don’t push past pain. Find the edge of what’s enough and what’s too much and stay on the “just enough” side. This is your “edge.” It’s the place where you feel your muscles working, but the sensation you feel is tolerable, and you can perform the exercise without holding your breath or gritting your teeth. Knowing where your “edge” is will help you decide where your weaknesses lie and what types of exercise are right for you. For instance, I know that running, swimming, and biking are not for me. Not that I’m not good at any of those things or that they aren’t good for me in theory, but running has repeatedly led to joint problems for me in the past, swimming requires more repetitive rotation than my unstable spine enjoys, and biking puts me in too much forward flexion, further tightening my hip flexors, hamstrings, and cervical extensors—areas of my body which are already overly tight. I’ve found that variety—also known as Cross Training—is the key for me. I rotate through various routines for upper and lower body resistive training, focus on core stabilization exercises, avoid repetitive or one sided sports (like tennis, bowling, and golf), and add in recreational activities that I find enjoyable and challenging, such as kayaking, hiking, or roller blading. NOTE: The trick is to find activities you’ll enjoy, stick with, and are willing to sweat through for 30 minutes five times per week.
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