Strange things happen in our culture. Over time, we take certain ideas, often outdated or unfounded, to be unwavering truths—be they religious, political, or lifestyle oriented in nature. One excellent example is the idea of the ideal body form. We all know the stereotypes: hourglass figure femininity and the rugged cut muscles of masculinity. But health is far more dynamic than that—and of course, so is the human form. For many of us, those are unattainable goals (without major plastic surgery!). So we often resort to almost compulsive workout routines to try and carve the body image we hope exists outside of our head. That's simply not healthy.
And, guys, you may be creating damage in pursuit of those rock-hard arms, abs, and legs with excessive weight training. In fact, adopting a weight-free workout could not only strengthen your muscles, but also promote healthier bone density, flexibility, and tone.
A well-rounded exercise regimen is by far the best option for optimal health. When we lift weights, we often see results rather quickly, and that can be exciting. And weightlifting has immense benefits, too. But there are also negative effects, including the tightening of tendons and muscles, elevated blood pressure, and injuries. From pulling or straining to bruising and tearing, weight training can be very damaging if not done properly. So as part of a healthy exercise program, consider these three reasons not to fear a weight-free workout!
- General Health: While weight training can make your breath a bit heavy, it's not a true cardio workout. We need this activity to flush toxins, move lymphatic fluid, and get all that good oxygen-rich blood pumping into our brains and organs. Make sure you're getting in a good cardio workout at least 3 times a week, be it running, cycling, dance, or some other form of movement that ups your breath for at least 30 minutes at a time. A regular cardio practice will improve all areas of your health, including better performance in weight training.
- Balance: Not all muscles are impacted by weight lifting. That can cause a lot of issues down the road. Bringing in another workout regimen like yoga, cycling, or even just a daily walk, will help the body utilize more muscle groups and help to balance out the work you've done in weight lifting. Did you know that walking works every muscle in your body? While it may seem more like a mode of transportation than a form of exercise, one of the single greatest things we can do for our health is to walk at least 5 miles every day (that's roughly 10,000 steps). Walking also slows us down, gives us space to think, relax, even meditate. This is an important element in human health, both physically and mentally. Get yourself a good odometer and take notice of how much walking you're doing every day. Chances are you could benefit from adding a 45-minute to 1-hour walk to your day. Notice the benefits on your health once you start.
- Endurance: Weight lifting can create tremendous strength, but it's often quite conditional—lifting 100-pound weights over your head is much different than a barrel, box, or body. So, strength needs a counterpart: endurance. That comes from building strength over time and in various ways so that you're able to sustain your efforts. Some of the best practices for endurance building are running, cycling (or spinning), yoga, and swimming. Not only can these practices help bring balance and healthy effects to all areas of your life, but these repetitive practices teach the body how to adapt its strengths and be flexible!
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