When you’re looking at increasing your daily (or weekly) dose of cardio exercise, you may be wondering what to add to your regime. Or maybe you’re not even wondering, you’re just planning on adding more of the same. Well, don’t. The best cardio is something you aren’t currently doing. Exercising for longer periods of time will give you an even better cardiovascular workout, but the risks related to stressing other areas makes another type of exercise preferable.
Your exercise obsession may actually be doing you more harm than good. For instance, runners risk degenerative knees and meniscal tears, and the more they run, the more they increase their chances of these problems. Swimmers are at high risk for developing tears in their shoulders’ rotator cuff muscles. Rowers often develop lower back problems. While teens and adults argue over whether texting is considered exercise, it can cause tendonitis in the thumb. (Of course, it’s pretty certain not to have much cardiovascular benefit, though.)
Any single activity you do frequently and for long periods of time will have negative effects on your body’s muscles and joints. Olympians and professional athletes often suffer as a result of this dilemma, but at least they have careers and awards to show for it, as well. Unless you’re going pro, you really have no good reason to increase your addiction to a particular sport or exercise and some significant reasons to diversify your exercise regimen.
In addition to decreasing risks, adding diversity to your routine can actually benefit your body, as well. Because muscles accommodate regular activities, often resulting in imbalances among muscles, varying your activity types can give you an optimal workout. For instance, runners tend to develop strong hamstrings and hip flexors, causing the buttock muscles to be underused.
Whether you currently suffer from joint trauma or muscular imbalances or are at risk for such negative results, you can decrease your chances of such stress by varying your exercise routine. Let’s say you currently run 3-4 days a week and are experiencing joint pain. By adding some new exercises—such as elliptical machines, bicycles, or weight training—you can still run once a week while giving your knees a break the other days. Your joints will thank you, formerly underused muscles will be built, and you’ll enjoy some new activities, to boot! Who knows?! One of them might become your favorite, after a while.
If your exercise of choice is texting, maybe you could give your thumbs a break at least once a week and indulge in any one of the exercises mentioned above. Perhaps you could have a real live conversation with a friend while doing so, decreasing your chances of tendonitis, heart attacks, and social isolation—never mind, a gigantic cell phone bill!
PhysioDC of Washington, D.C.
Daniel Baumstark and his professional team of physical therapists operate a boutique physical therapy office in downtown Washington, D.C. From athletes to government officials, and from ballerinas to corporate executives, PhysioDC helps people recover, strengthen and return to healthy living. Visit their website at www.PhysioDC.com or call them at 202-223-8500.
From the PhysioDC blog:
- Foam rolling for the ITB: Why am I doing this again?
- Microfracture knee surgery rehabilitation
- Labral repair recovery Q & A
Photo credits: Top © Ron Chapple Stock / Fotolia. Middle © Kzenon / Fotolia. Bottom © Alex Jackson / Fotolia.
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