Exercise should be about quality of life, not looks
Exercise is often associated with weight loss, muscle gain or other fitness outcomes related to physical changes in the body. I’d love to see this mindset change. I’d love to see less focus on reshaping the body.
It would lower psychological barriers that get in the way of starting an exercise program. It would help those most in need of physical activity to focus on being active as an essential support for good health.
This week, I’ll share my viewpoint on how to accomplish this attitude adjustment and will introduce one of my favorite exercises aimed at easing activities of daily living.
Based on current epidemiological data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about one in five adults meets the current physical activity guidelines. The guidelines recommend 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity and at least two sessions of resistance training a week.
The fact that only an estimated 21 percent of adults is active enough to stay well is troublesome for fitness professionals. It means we’ve failed to reach 79 percent of the population. The question is — why? This is a complicated question with a number of complex explanations, but one of them is certainly perception.
Some people (particularly in our region) perceive the physically active as narcissistic “gym rats” who spend the majority of their day staring into a full-length mirror. This perception is not only inaccurate but also dangerous. It leads sedentary people, older adults, children and those with damaging lifestyles to believe that they could not be successful, or worse, that they don’t “belong” among physically active people.
If there’s one thing I’ll continue to shout from the mountaintops, it’s that anyone can be successful with some form of physical activity.
The key is understanding that physical activity isn’t just about achieving weight loss or muscle gain, but more about improving your quality of life. Increased energy, reduced health risks and better mobility are just a few of the awesome outcomes of a physically active lifestyle that anyone can achieve.
This week’s exercise is a perfect addition to an exercise program aimed at improving quality of life vs. one aimed at accomplishing some arbitrary physical outcome. The Scarecrow Shrug is appropriate for anyone — at any age — and it doesn’t require a single piece of equipment.
1. Hold your elbows at 90 degrees at shoulder height with your palms facing forward, fingertips pointed to the sky. This position looks like the “freeze” position that police officers tell perpetrators to maintain.
2. Shrug your shoulders up as far as you can, then move the shoulders down as far as you can.
3. Continue moving the shoulders up and down for 10 repetitions, 2 sets.
The Scarecrow Shrug is a great way to warm up the upper back and neck in the morning. Many of us are stiff after waking up, and this exercise helps to loosen some of the muscles that tend to tighten up. It’s easy to perform and only takes a few seconds, so why not? Enjoy!
Amanda Price does the simple Scarecrow Shrug, which eases tension and stiffness out of the neck and upper back.