Ex­er­cise should be about qual­ity of life, not looks

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - MATT PARROTT Matt Parrott has a doc­tor­ate in ed­u­ca­tion (sport stud­ies) and a mas­ter’s in ki­ne­si­ol­ogy and is cer­ti­fied by the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Sports Medicine. vball­top@aol.com

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.

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/CELIA STOREY

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