May 2017 13

Keeping up with the Jonses

By: Dave Wheeler

If professional athletes can train every day and perform well, surely we can, right?

This might seem like a sensible comparison, but it's actually flawed for a number of reasons:

  • Professional athletes don't have to squeeze their exercise around an 8 hour job. It is their job! 
  • They have professional help in the form of coaches, physios and massage therapists every day.
  • They sleep well, eat well, hydrate well. And they rest.
  • They train to ensure that even though they might use specific muscles "on the day", they're still conditioning the surrounding and opposing muscles.

Is the same true of us?

If you're over-exercising, the sad truth is that you're going to get injured.

Muscles need a good 48 hours to recover after an exhausting workout. So if you run 6 days a week, you're pretty much screwed.

The older we get the more taking care of our rest cycle, sleep, food and hydration. 

From an evolutionary perspective, our bodies are designed to last until we're about 46 yrs old. That might sound young, but it's reckoned that the earliest homo sapiens only lived to 26 yrs old on average - so bodies that last til we're 46 sounds like a good deal.

After that the systems that keep our bones, muscles and joints slow down.  Repair still happens, but at a much slower rate.

If you're doing a lot of high intensity training, or doing the same exercise pattern  more than 3 days a week then you're asking for trouble later on.

There are 2 things that I will often say to clients that they really hate:

  1. If you want to carry on with your sport & exercise for another 10 years, you need to slow down now
  2. Be gentle on yourself

They're comments that too often fall on deaf ears - but I do get a grim sense of satisfaction when people come back a couple of years later and say "I wish I'd listened to you."

We exercise for a variety of different reasons, but exercise is like dieting... best done sensibly, knowledgeably and as part of a lifestyle choice.