Learn Your Body

Body toning, fat reduction and muscular strength development –by way of exercise– has always been more effective (and safe) when the applicant understands the technical aspects of each movement incorporated into their workout routines. One doesn’t have to become a biology professor to attain fitness success. But rather, the [basic] capability to identify and understand the muscles –and their physiological responsibilities– is important to maximize results.

On that note, I must emphasize that exercising your body begins as a mental process, not a physical one. It’s the mind that operates and controls the body. And the better the mind understands the individual components of the human anatomical machine the better that machine will perform. Plain and simple; anatomical knowledge is an integral part of health and performance success.

Think about it (now that’s a real mental pun), it’s your mind that gets you curious, frustrated, depressed, excited, motivated, aroused, educated, disciplined, confidant, and a plethora of other psychological characteristics.

And its those characteristics that drives us into doing things physically. Whether it’s brushing our teeth, throwing away the garbage, taking the dog for a walk, or exercising, all physical actions [must] begin with a mental thought and command.

Some folks are very familiar with many of the aforementioned mental emotions. Others, at one time or another, have experienced these negative feelings then, with education and proper conditioning, applied themselves to attain positive mental traits. The ideal state to strive for in developing a supreme state of health is to 1) Analyze your weaknesses (the mental and physical ones), 2) Design practical (and sensible) routine/s that will address those needs, then 3), Perform the routine/s with eagerness using a wise methodical approach.

All three steps are mentally associated. The 3rd, and final, step is the only phase that requires physical actions, unless you had to jog each day to the classroom where you acquired your knowledge. So as climbers first studies photographs of the mountains they are planning to climb, it’s the mind that develops the “know how” and “want to” to reach those peaks.

anatomical knowledge is an integral part
of health and performance success

Learning your body can be a simple systematic procedure which brings science into the exercise room –and dinner table– adding wisdom to your lifestyle. This article is not meant to educate you on all you need to know to get into terrific shape –there’s simply not enough room. But rather, I’m writing this to commence my participation as consulting fitness editor with Healthy & Natural and to disclose some valuable information that can positively change your lives. All you need to do is listen, learn and apply.

Now, it’s not my objective to become your fitness guru. Actually, I always hated that title because I would feel so obligated to placing a turban around my head, burn incense and chant as I taught exercise. Rather, I want to become your “go-do” –I give the advise and design the plans then you go do it.

Great athletes, even the ones who are physically training 6 to 8 hours every day, study. They strive to learn their bodies searching for a continual fortification of what they already know and aspire to learn as much as they can to gain the edge over their competition.

Okay, if you don’t have any athletic aspirations let me ask you this. Do you want to look and feel great? Of course you do. If you don’t, stop reading this right now, you’re wasting both our time. In actuality, looking and feeling great is far less stressful than competing in sports. The pressure of competition often times stresses athletes out and depletes their immune systems. But for the fitness enthusiast striving for optimal health, competition related stresses are nonexistent making exercising fun, casual and self-relying, while providing plenty of remarkable benefits.

I believe many of the exercise routines being sold today are missing the target and only focus on exterior results –ignoring inner health. Since so many people have let their physiques and attitudes get very out of shape, they fall easy prey to elaborate marketing ploys. However, out of embarrassment and frustration, many acquire that “I’ll do anything at any cost” attitude in attempts to regain better health and appearance.

I’m not saying that many of the current exercise routines on the market yield no results, rather, I feel they overemphasize one [or a few] points ignoring a holistic approach. But, as we all know, or worse yet, have experienced, many of these routines just don’t last, and the progress often rebounds returning us back to our original [poor] state. The reasons is that every routine, even the best ones, have their time limits and, if they are not changed or adjusted periodically, burn-out is probable, but more likely inevitable.

By learning the basic fundamentals of exercise, and looking at the body holistically, then expediting this knowledge into performing physical (fitness) activities, you’ll develop a stronger and longer lasting foundation building your castle on rock, not sand. And if you’re constantly using the scale or mirror as indicators of your progress –and no results on either are appearing– think for a moment and determine if you feel any healthier or stronger. Chances are, if you have been exercising, you certainly have become stronger, more energetic and healthier despite the absence of any exterior indicators.

Learn your body and develop the mental attitude first then all else will fall into place (maybe a few pounds will fall out of place!). This is the basic pursuit for those who truly live the fitness lifestyle. This methodology is not a fly-by-night quick-fix-then-rebound system. This is the beginning of an entirely new you. So, if you’re out of shape and wanting to change that condition with exercise and nutrition, don’t be overly concerned [at first] to only acquire exterior results. Better stated, don’t be obsessed with an immediate external physical transformation as this has proven time and time again unsuccessful for long-term benefits. The goal is to condition the controlling (or operating) system of your body –the brain– then navigate that knowledge which will ultimately turn your aspirations and goals into reality.

I realize this article hasn’t given you any real specifics. What I’m hoping tough is that it ignites a flame of desire which can develop into a productive relationship between you and I –remember, I’m your “go-do”. In my classes, I inform my students how amazed I am that people will read manuals for their VCR’s, PC’s, 35 mm cameras, hire consultants, even take evening classes to learn how to efficiently operate these material objects. But what do people do to educate themselves to themselves? Most of them, nothing at all! The human body is a very neglected and abused organism, statistics prove that.

So as I conclude this article, I encourage you to submit your questions for my suggestions and commentary. The publisher and editorial staff here at Healthy & Natural have demonstrated an immeasurable concern for their readers and have assigned this column to myself to service your personal needs. So please write, I’ll enjoy hearing from you.

Learn Your Body

If our financial leaders are preaching knowledge is the key to success, then athletes, coaches, fitness and longevity enthusiasts alike can use the same formula to attain their fortunes of health. So let’s begin the pursuit toward a healthy, productive and long life. Get it in your head first and watch your body take the shape of your thoughts. See you next issue!!!

Questions & Answers Forum

Q: I have long known that one should always stretch before (and after) a workout. But now I am reading that one should warm up before stretching. Is there any truth to this?

A: Absolutely! Warming-up the body in general fashion helps to increase heart rate and core body temperature. This thermogenic (heat producing) response is stimulated by the increased action of the heart which circulates warmer blood throughout the body, hence warming the tissues. By, let’s say, riding a stationary bike prior to performing flexibility (or stretching) movements, you will casually begin to accelerate cardiovascular activity without testing the elastic characteristics of the tissues. Muscles possess elastic energy but stretching them before they have had a chance to warmed-up can cause injury by tearing the tissues. However, once the tissues have been warmed-up [generally speaking] your stretching movements will be easier, safer, and more productive with enhanced flexibility of the joints and muscles involved. General activities include walking, stepping, rope jumping, calisthenics, rowing, jogging, swimming, etc. When the general warm-ups are completed (usually 5-20 minutes), specific warm-ups should follow which are normally comprised of movements designed to loosen, or enhance the flexibility, of the muscles, tendons and ligaments and prepare these tissues for more rigorous activity. Here’s my two world famous analogies on elastic energy. The first refers to a balloon. One does not attempt to blow air into it without first pulling on it a few times, which we all know, allows that balloon to expand to its flexible potential without bursting. The second example applies to a pair of socks. Tugging on a new pair of socks before putting them on loosens the elastic material in the fabric making them easier to slip over your feet, ankles and calves. This tugging action is symbolic of a general warm-up which activates the elastic energy held in human muscle tissue enabling a greater range-of-expansion [flexible capabilities] and workout performance.

Q: I have arthritis in my knees and ankles. I was told that swimming would be a good way to strengthen the muscle tissue around these joints and perhaps improve my condition. But in the past, when I have attempted this, the arthritis pain only got worse. What’s your advice?

A: Swimming offers some interesting safety aspects that no other form of exercise can. The buoyancy of being in the water reduces gravitational stress while the floatation enables an ease of bodily movements. However, traditional swimming techniques do not allow the knees and/or the ankles to bend or rotate throughout the complete range of motion they are capable of. Look at the shoulder joint for instance; This joint revolves in an almost 360O circular fashion completely isolating most (if not all) of the surrounding muscles. Now looking at the knees and ankles, their motions are usually limited to short quick fluttering movements which creates continuous stress and an accumulation of excessive heat in specific areas of the joint. Utilize ways to work the entire range of motion of these joints and this heat buildup would be more evenly distributed throughout the entire joint, and may prevent, or alleviate, your arthritic condition. My suggestions are to continue swimming but intermittently break up your routine by including some lower body aquasize movements that incorporate full range of motion knee flexion and ankle rotation actions.

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Written by John Abdo

Explore Wellness in 2021