Week 1: Let's Get Physical
Physical strength has a different meaning to everyone—and for good reason. An individual’s definition of “strength” is personal and in most cases, directly linked to what they want to achieve in their life.
For some physical strength might mean being able to walk for an hour without getting tired, or being able to carry groceries without issue, or being able to climb the stairs with ease. While others may define physical strength as being able to lift, push, pull or carry a heavy load, complete a specific task within a certain amount of time, or being able to perform a physically demanding activity without issue.
Whatever your goal might be, the plain and simple truth is that your physical strength plays a significant role in how well you are able to perform ALL of your daily activities and leisurely pursuits.
Not only does maintaining and improving your muscular strength provide you with a lengthy list of health benefits, (like helps maintaining a healthy body weight, improving bone density, improving your metabolism, preventing loss of muscle strength, preventing osteoporosis, etc.) it can also significantly impact your overall physical and mental well-being, particularly as you age. Woah. Too Real.
No matter your age, your level of fitness, or your fitness goal your physical strength is important. We shape our daily tasks around what we think we can accomplish within our capacities, both mentally and physically. Often our physical capacities are influenced by other factors—like previous or current injuries, physical disorders, and our overall physical strength. Although some of these factors are out of our control or difficult to change, the one factor that is modifiable is your strength.
Muscle mass and strength are important everyday. When muscles deteriorate, bone mass and bone quality are also lost due to the way our muscles pull on our bones. This loss in overall body strength and function impairs daily activity and even makes daily activities dangerous by increasing the risk of falls and injuries during those falls. This may seem like a problem only for the elderly or frail, but the small loss in function and muscle and bone strength that begin around your late 30’s (OMG) can quickly add up over the years.
Alright, if I’ve scared you like I’ve scared me, here are some ways to build up your strength that don’t necessarily involve the gym. Whatever your motivation, try and make strength training a part of your weekly routine. Activities could be repetitive stair climbing to strengthen leg and back muscles, heavy housework to strengthen your upper body muscles, and gardening for full body strengthening. A more organized form of strength training is yoga. Not only can yoga make you more flexible and reduce stress, it can also make your body strong. And bonus, you can do a yoga practise from the comfort of your living room.
To build strength into a simple yoga practise, move slowly through each pose, starting with the first pose and adding more as you are ready. Move slowly through each pose, remembering to breathe as you move. Hold each pose for five deep, slow breaths before moving on to the next one. Practice two to three times a week.
Your physical strength balances so much more than you think. It’s linked to how well you move, your ability to adapt and thrive in your environment, whatever that might be or your ability to overcome physical barriers. So get started, every little bit counts, this isn’t a race we’re just moving to keep moving.