As the next year approaches, we start thinking about what goals to set for the short term (4 weeks), mid term (3 months and 6 months) and then the long term (12 months). When jotting out health and fitness goals down on a post-it note to stick on teh bathroom mirror (as a constant reminder!) there are some components that need to be considered.
The three S’s set the benchmark when looking at our weekly routine. It is the balance between these three components that determine the overall health and fitness of our bodies plus give us the physical and mental energy to strive for what we wish to achieve.
This is the heart beat of all exercise which is why we commonly call it cardio fitness. This type of training allows the heart, lungs and blood vessels to pump oxygen-rich blood to the muscles.
Getting the heart rate pumping means improved health and mood; increases the strength of your breathing muscles which in turn improves performance and recovery; plus it improves our overall health and the prevention of disease.
The fitter you are, the greater your oxygen consumption. An easy way to measure your fitness level is monitoring your recovery period. If you run up a hill and are puffed and short of breathe, plus it takes your breathing to settle down most of your recovery walk back down the hill – do not be discouraged by this. It can be the start of your short term goal so in 4 weeks time you mentally compare the length of your recovery and see what differences have been made. It may be only small, but then you compare again at 3 months, 6 months and so on.
Examples of Stamina Training
Running, Jogging, Walking (briskly)
Sports: football sports, tennis, netball, rowing, swimming
Classes: aerobics, aqua, step, cycling, HIIT, boxing
This is the ability of the muscle to generate the maximum amount of force; normally measured by the amount of weight the muscles can lift. Closely related to ‘muscular endurance’ which is the ability of the muscle to perform repetitive contractions over a prolonged period of time.
Before I go on, I do want to be clear about something. Strength and Muscles Endurance does not only mean ‘bulking up’. It means gaining a higher level of musculoskeletal fitness to make us strong – not big. Everyone needs to maintain, at the very least, enough muscular strength so that everyday tasks and emergencies can be dealt with at ease.
Life is easier when you are strong. Gradually gaining strength gives us confidence and improves our self esteem knowing we will be able to do certain things/activities that someone with less strength can do (carry shopping bags from the car to the kitchen – how many trips do you need?). Having a strong body improves our body’s engine/machine and in turn prevents injury by increasing joint stability and strength. Training with lighter weights but lots of repetitions increases muscle tone – not bulking up which focuses on heavy weights and a small number of repetitions. Muscle tone allows you to be strong, look good and feel great.
Examples of Strength Training
Resistance / Weight Training
Suppleness / Stretching
Also known as Flexibility – something most of us do not do often enough! As we age, we lose flexibility so it is crucial that we maintain this in our lives, particularly after exercise. Stretching increases the muscle length and gives us more mobility due to the greater range we can adapt our bodies.
There are a variety of techniques when it comes to stretching however the key thing is to hold each position for a minimum 30 seconds – or longer! You want to feel the stretch and be slightly uncomfortable but not in any pain. Move your body around and adjust your position so you get the most out of the stretch. Breathing plays an important role when progressing the stretch. When you breathe in – adjust your position; when you breathe out – lengthen the muscle a little more and hold the new holding position for a further 30 seconds (or more).
Examples of Suppleness Training
So when you look at your weekly routine, see how many Stamina, Strength and Stretch sessions you have. There should be a balanced number of all three. 7 days in a week allows for 1 rest day and then 2 days each of the three S's. It that's simple.
Stay Active in the Season you are in and be safe this New Year's Eve.