Make 2020 a year of change, Part 2

By Tracy Demetropolis

PHOENIX – In part one of “Make 2020 a year of change,” North Phoenix personal trainer Mark Olson, ACE CPT, explained the challenges people face when committing to losing weight and exercising in the new year. In part 2, Olson explains why getting in top physical shape isn’t just about gaining muscle and losing fat. Balance, flexibility and posture play a key role in physical fitness. He also explains why everyone – even people who are not motivated to exercise — should make fitness a priority.

Why are balance, flexibility and posture so important?

Olson: Working on balance training, keeping up with a flexibility routine and being aware of postural imbalances could literally make one of the biggest differences in combatting the aging process.

Balance, flexibility and posture are just as important as losing weight or gaining muscle. Working on balance helps us move better, prevent falls and become more aware of each movement we make. Balance is important because no matter what you do in life, it is needed. Whether you are lifting something over your head, walking to your car, stepping off of or onto a curb or are suddenly bumped, balance is incorporated and challenged.

Balance is especially important as we get older. As we age, equilibrium can change and our eyesight and hearing change. We also have muscle and bone-density loss. This puts us at a greater risk of a fall, possibly resulting in bone fractures and sprains.

Flexibility is important because when you don’t have the proper range of motion or mobility in a joint, you can create more imbalances. Other muscles will have to compensate for this imbalance and that dynamic will slowly set you up for injury. The benefits of flexibility are increased range of motion, increased circulation and faster recovery.

Without focusing on balance, flexibility and correct posture, you will create dysfunctional movement patterns. Ultimately, this will lead to imbalances within the muscles and joints which will lead to injury and bring progress to a standstill. It will also lead to postural issues that are not aesthetically pleasing. Poor posture can also lead to problems such as muscle and skeletal pain and injury.

How much money should people expect to spend on getting in shape?

Olson: You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get in better shape. You can invest in some resistance bands and do lots of different exercises with them. You can also do all sorts of exercises with just your body weight. You can use things from around your house to exercise with, like milk jugs, water jugs or soup cans. You can use stairs or some pieces of furniture too.

You can also get outside more – run, walk, bike. Just keep your body moving. Find friends or join an activity group to help you stay motivated and accountable. Just have fun. People tend to think that they have to have a gym membership and a lot of fancy machines to get fit. Doing any activity where you are moving is beneficial for your health and well-being.

Also, don’t spend a lot of money on nutritional supplements. They should be used to fill in the gaps and not be relied on for overall results. Real food and sound nutrition should be your main priority.

You mentioned motivation. How would you motivate someone who says they just don’t enjoy exercising?

Olson: People who don’t like to exercise have to come to grips with why it is important in the first place. Our bodies were made to move. We have muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. It is not functional to sit and be sedentary. It will create a whole slew of problems for you, physically and mentally.

As we get older, we have a higher risk of delayed onset disease like high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis and diabetes. Just a little bit of activity daily can combat these.

There are a lot of exercise videos online. Are there videos you recommend to people?

Olson: The internet is an easy place to get lost and overwhelmed with good and bad information. Don’t be afraid to meet with a qualified professional to get you started on the right track. It will be money well spent.

In part one of this article, you mentioned the importance of recovery. Would you please explain what that is and why it’s important?

Olson: Recovery is one of the most overlooked components of health. People don’t find it as important as everything else because you are not working very hard while you are doing it. Recovery can be stretching, foam-rolling, getting enough sleep and eating foods that will help limit inflammation and help you maintain energy levels throughout the day.

The faster you recover, the faster you can go back to the activities you enjoy. When you don’t take the time for recovery, your body is at greater risk of injury and burnout. Listen to your body and schedule those days of recovery.

Why is fitness so important to you?

Olson: It has helped me physically in the day-to-day routine and in activities that I enjoy doing. It has probably helped me mentally more than anything. It’s helped me with stress relief, anxiety and depression. In a world that is set up to put a band aid over everything and give a drug prescription, fitness is the most under prescribed “drug” out there. It can help you with so many things. I love being a personal trainer because I have the opportunity to help people in such a positive way. I get the chance to see people change and go through so many ups and downs, which in turn becomes a blessing to me.

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