• Terrence

Recreational Activity isn't Enough

Recreation should not be your only form of exercise and activity.

This applies to all recreation and activities but is mainly directed at the typical enthusiast who bikes or runs in the summer, and skis in the winter. Or maybe just one of those. Or maybe none!

I am not saying it should not be considered exercise, but I argue there are not any sports or recreational activities that will improve your joint mobility and health of the majority of your soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons). Specifically those activities mentioned above.

Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE mountain biking, I thoroughly enjoy skiing. They are great activities and certainly will keep you along or move you along the curve of health and fitness, but they have their limits.

The problem here is that the majority of activities and recreation is based around lower body movement, and typically features reduced and cyclical ranges of motion.

There are certainly outliers here that incorporate upper body, such as cross country skiing, volleyball, rock climbing, softball etc. But these activities are still limited in the use of the upper limbs and require a specific function which again is typically very repetitive and offers no balancing exercises. While mountain biking certainly uses the upper body, it is predominantly a lower body activity, especially if you are doing average trail riding with lots of uphill cycling.

So here's the situation I see all too often...Jimmy works an average job where he is sitting for likely 4-6 hours per day, if not more. He knows that he is sedentary and needs to up his activity for a multitude of reasons. He is also aware that his posture is not great and his legs and hips usually feel quite stiff. So he dabbles in a bit of running 1-2x/week, and gets on his bike and rides 2-3x/week for 1-2 hours, maybe if it's nice he'll ride his bike to work too.

Now I do commend Jimmy for being more active, as this is much better than doing nothing. But really, all Jimmy has done is take his poor desk and sitting posture and put it on top of a pair of moving legs, of which are moving in a very minimal range of motion, not doing anything to improve his mobility of his stiff body.

Many people have recognized the need for a balanced exercise program in the last 5+ years. Typically this realization occurs when we start to get a bit older and realize body is not made of rubber. An issue that comes up often is that many only participate in a balanced exercise program in their off-season, to undo and to prepare for the next season of limited, repetitive movements. The most common excuse is "I don't have time", which is hard to believe when there is time for 4-5 runs or bikes per week of 1-2+ hours.

So here is the SOLUTION. Find a training program, or a coach, or a gym that will put your body through all of the ranges of movement that you DO NOT utilize in your activities. You will still train those muscles, joints and movements, but much less when you are in-season. When you are off-season, aim to exercise 3-4x/week (in the gym). When you are in-season, aim to exercise 2-3x/week (in the gym). This may depend on what your activity is, your time availability and your desires, but we do not recommend less than 2x/week.

I am sure many of you are now thinking, "I definitely need to do some exercises to combat my posture and repetitive motions, but what do I do?!"

Here's the answer : Find a gym or a coach (like us!) that understands your activity and your needs that will help you with what you need. Notice I did not say, "Buy my MTB/Running/Skiing 6 week program". Because unless you are striving for absolute perfomance in your activity, you DO NOT need a specific program, and if you are then you should have Individualized Programming to maximize your results. What the majority of people need is General Physical Preparedness (GPP). This is what Forge Valley Fitness focuses on. GPP exercise will simultaneously allow you to excel in your respecitive activites and balance out the repetitive movements found in nearly all sports and activities so you can continue to enjoy them for many years to come.

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