By Adjusting Expectations, It’s Never Too Late to Get Fit
Sooner or later, many of us are forced to make a painful admission — we’re a little past our athletic prime.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t still get out there, be competitive, have fun and stay in great shape. All you have to do is refocus your fitness identity.
Here’s how you can get started on being an athlete for life.
First, you have to slightly alter your expectations. In our hearts, we’re still as youthful and fit as ever. Then you decide to go for run and can’t believe you’re gasping for air at the end of the driveway. Instead of quitting out of frustration, just reassess where you are and where you want to be. Then, make a realistic plan to get there.
Second, learn to listen to your body instead of the stopwatch.
Third, find activities you love. If your sport becomes a job or a stressor in your life, find something new. Research indicates that varying your activities keeps your mind and body alert and stimulated.
There’s also an crucial component of exercise that many people skip — stretching. Stretching is an important part of any workout or rehab program, but many people don’t know the proper time to stretch or for how long.
There are two basic kinds of stretching: dynamic and static.
Dynamic is stretching with movement, and it should be done before your workout to improve your performance and reduce your risk of injury.
Dynamic looks similar to static stretching but you only hold the stretch for 1 to 3 seconds and repeat it 15 to 20 times per extremity.
Tiffany Wasson, a doctor of physical therapy at Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic, says soldier kicks for your hamstrings are a great pre-workout stretch. These involve kicking your legs straight up and down in front of you, alternating between your left and right leg. Another great example is pulling your legs up toward your chest to stretch your glutes.
Static stretching is for after your workout. In a static stretch, you hold the muscle for 30 seconds. Some examples include hamstring stretches, groin stretches and shoulder stretches.
After a workout, your muscles have good blood flow and are more pliable, allowing them to lengthen and ultimately improving your flexibility.
If you look forward to your workout and have realistic expectations, chances are you can stay fit and active for many years to come.