I am often asked, by my clients, about my own physical fitness programme.
My fitness programme has evolved over the years with emerging knowledge and research, is tweaked on a reasonably regular basis, and is very personalised according to what works for me. My goals are to remain fit and functional and exercise well with strength and mobility, emphasising avoiding injury and protecting my joints.
The guiding principles are regularity, variety, frequency and adequate rest and recovery.
Currently, week by week, my programme includes:
Core strength and flexibility - 15 minutes of Pilates type exercises to start the day, Monday to Friday. The Pilates method is highly effective in creating a good balance between strength and flexibility.
Walking - After my Pilates exercises and a good cup of coffee, it's time for a 30-minute walk before starting my working day. Moving frequently at a slow pace is essential to maintain a basic level of physical health. Monday to Friday morning walks allow me to reach the minimum recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
Hanging - For this activity, I use a pull-up bar that sits on top of a door frame. Ninety seconds a day helps maintain functional grip strength, shoulder mobility and spinal mobility. The spinal elongation, assisted by gravity, unloads the spinal discs, so I usually do my hanging after sitting completing the day's clinical notes.
Floor sitting - Each evening, while watching some TV, I'll get onto the floor and explore various sitting and kneeling positions to maintain knee, hip, pelvic and lower back mobility..then try to get back up to standing without the use of hands.
Foam rolling - Relaxing at the end of a working day and great for maintaining mobility of the thoracic spine region, which is where I tend to focus mainly.
Kettlebell swings - Twice a week, three sets of thirty repetitions to get the larger muscle groups pumping blood, the equivalent of a sprint workout that has adaptive immune and cardiovascular effects as well as promoting testosterone synthesis and other benefits. I'll skip these if feeling under the weather to not stress the immune and nervous system overly.
Running - Also twice a week, usually Tuesdays and Thursdays for about 20 minutes, not too far, not too fast. I try to keep my heart rate in the Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) zone of 180 beats minus my age to promote fat metabolism and avoid excessive cumulative immune, nervous and endocrine system stress which can lead to 'chronic cardio syndrome'.
X3 strength training - Without a doubt, the best piece of equipment I have invested in. The X3 system works with resistance bands which creates variable resistance according to joint range and position. The benefits are strengthening as well as high-level joint and tendon loading to protect and promote resilience. The images show the different exercises, which create a powerful adaptive stimulus for muscle growth when done to the point of absolute fatigue. I do exercises 1-4 on Saturdays and 5-8 on Sundays. For more about the X3, please click here.
Balance training - Finally, in between X3 exercise sets, I'll use a balance board, aka wobble board which creates an unstable surface to practice balancing for up to 60 seconds. Balance reactions slow down as we age and can lead to an increased risk of falls and ankle sprains, and other injuries related to a loss of dynamic stability.
So that's about it for the week. I try to be as consistent as possible; most of these exercises can be done anywhere and don't require lots of equipment.
By Simon Coghlan MSc, BSc Physio, DipMedAc