Beyond Basic

At this time of the year, you’re more likely to feel motivated to exercise, and it’s not just in your head. Katy Milkman, host of the “Choiceology” podcast, often tells stories about her research on what’s been coined “The Fresh Start Effect.”

Compared to normal, you’re more likely to feel most motivated after a birthday, at the start of a week, the beginning of a month or the start of a new year.

Before you sign up for a gym membership, you should know that there are other aspects of overall fitness besides toning and bulking.

Your body was made to move.

Picture this: You just got home from the store with a load of groceries. It’s summertime, and your car will be hot soon. You bought some frozen items, and no one else is there to help. You’ll need to move quickly to get everything out of your car — bending forward into your trunk, pulling bags toward you, lifting them up and then carrying them to the house without losing your balance or any of your bags.

When you arrive, slightly out of breath, you muster the energy to lift, bend and put away all the food from your conquest. This basic task shouldn’t be as hard as it is for some of us, but part of that is because of the overemphasis on strength workouts.

Each of us should be able to move in a number of ways, including crawling, jumping, pulling, lifting and carrying. The way that you train in combination with your genetics determines how your body adapts.

Different types of exercise are associated with different kinds of adaptations or responses to exercising. Program design for strength/resistance training is different than program design for cardiovascular, plyometric, and speed and agility training.

While lifting heavier weights makes you better at that skill — and can tone muscle — and performing cardio improves skills that rely on cardiovascular capacity (the heart’s ability to work), you also need flexibility and motor control in order to live a healthy lifestyle.

Motor control is the ability to balance, stabilize, coordinate, time and control movement through the range of motion you possess. Agility is a skill that falls under motor control. It is the ability to rapidly change your whole body’s direction or speed in response to a stimulus — think dodging a squirrel on the trails or catching yourself after tripping.

Let’s talk about two easy ways you can practice movement: centering yourself and getting outside.

Yoga is a good way to practice balance and stability and to improve flexibility. I find that Moon Yoga studio has helped me destress with its inviting atmosphere. Moon Yoga is a modern vinyasa yoga studio located near Flat Branch Park downtown at 23 S. Fourth St.

To get outside, consider following the lead of Annette Triplett, chief executive officer of PedNet. Triplett has made a habit of walking to work. “I found that I really enjoyed the walk as a way to ease into the beginning of my day, and to wind down at the end,” she says. “The walk was more pleasant than driving, and I stuck with it.”

If walking to work isn’t an option, Triplett recommends starting small by walking, running or riding your bike once a week. “You can always do more or be active longer or at a higher intensity as you learn what you enjoy,” she says. “But if you try to do too much at the start, it might push you away from doing it again.”

If you’re looking for a community event to get you moving, PedNet is hosting their 19th annual Bike Walk & Wheel Week in May. Check their Facebook page for more details.

Steven Mack, CSCS, is a trainer and owner of Simple Fitness Solutions in Columbia.

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