Exercise. We all want to do it, (well, not all) however, we all aren’t exactly attracted to the same type of results they provide for us. Some prefer resistance training/weight lifting, others prefer sports like baseball or basketball, while we have those that like yoga and martial arts, we still have others who favor obstacle course racing. The one common denominator here is that they all help to increase strength (physical and mental) and they all help reduce stress. Whatever the movement or sport, there is something for everyone.
Yoga has traditionally been about balance. Balance of the self, the mind, and the emotions. Yoga is also about centering oneself, and includes a meditation aspect that people forget about in the busy city of New York. Most yoga takes place in a yoga studio on a flat surface, participants bring yoga mats, which are soft, padded mats that can be rolled up and brought home. Traditionally, the sessions are led by a yoga teacher, who will calmly direct what stretches or stances should be taken. A good instructor will correct struggling students on correct stances in a quiet manner.
Yoga has some great health benefits. Yogis often speak of having a clearer, calmer mind and lower stress levels. Balance and flow is generally improved upon the more you practice. Here are a few different types of yoga: Hatha, which is suggested for beginners, Vinyasa, which is recommended for weight loss, IYengar, which is great for individuals needing to strengthen their neck or back, Bikram which helps improve flexibility, Kundalini which focuses on a more spiritual experience, and lastly, Ashtanga which is best for a professional yoga practitioner. Yoga can also be used as a recovery workout, stretching sore muscles in a low impact environment feels phenomenal.
Resistance Training/Weight Lifting
Weight lifting has some serious benefits, especially as you age. It turns out that doing resistance training well into our golden years, helps the body retain muscle, preserve flexibility in the joints, prevent injuries and prevent bone fractures. When the body ages, it generally loses muscle mass so weight lifting is especially important to stay healthy and strong.
Weight lifting is also used by people who want to sculpt or shape their bodies. Setting a goal to have six-pack abs includes a dedicated weight training program to strengthen and define those abdominal muscles. This is important because weight lifting has some serious long term fat burning benefits compared to cardio. Even though a runner burns calories quickly, weight lifters will continuously burn fat hours after exercising.
New to lifting weights? Try speaking to a reputable trainer or joining a gym. Some places can be intimidating, but generally people want to help each other out. The most important aspect of lifting is proper body mechanics. When your body is properly aligned when picking up, holding, and dropping the weight, this is what actually prevents injury. Poor form can lead to injuries so it’s crucial you be informed before lifting.
Obstacle Course Racing (OCR)
OCR is still so new that it still has capitalized letters in it, unlike yoga or weight lifting. But OCR is a whole new concept in fitness. Obstacle Course Racing is just what it is called, racing through an obstacle course. The races that kids used to do where they climbed up walls, jumped through hoops, jumped into puddles, and ran around obstacles are now for adults.
OCR is unique in that it does not adhere to one specific muscle system or form of physical activity. A race will range from an hour long run spanning a mile or two, to day long events where elite athletes are pitted against several mental and physical tasks.
Obstacles are random and inventive, with some including swimming, or the monkey bars. Often participants will walk some distance carrying a sandbag. OCR is truly a test, as different obstacles will focus on some form of physical activity. Some race sites have a lot of mud, unlike a triathlon or a road race, the risk of getting injured or ill is higher. OCR is truly a test, as different obstacles will focus on some form of physical activity. Some participants will benefit from the balance they attained while practicing yoga, other participants will benefit from the heavy weights they lifted. Hikers will benefit from the terrain that their bodies have been conditioned to.
So whatever obstacle you fancy, consider the benefits of each type of exercise. The balance of yoga, the power of weight lifting, or the adaptability of OCR. Most importantly, be safe and have fun doing it!