When it comes to a proper training schedule, there are three important things to build into a routine: exercises that concentrate on breathing, strength and flexibility are the key to overall body wellness.
Focusing on these core elements as part of a balanced training plan, which makes use of aerobic activity, balance techniques and core strengthening, can help to increase stamina and endurance for anyone. What’s more, with the right plan in place, the training process should become easier over time.
Seeing as it usually happens without thinking, breathing isn’t always given the attention it deserves when it comes to training. However, when focused on, it can give tremendous benefits to any physical fitness routine.
Training breathing muscles will help to increase lung capacity, leading to better performance during aerobic activities, all while helping with overall fitness. There are simple inhalation excesses which can be practised to aid this.
Some yoga exercises are also effective as ways of expanding the muscles needed for breathing, and have the added benefit of aiding relaxation. The diaphragm is the most important muscle here, and part of the body's 'core' - so breathing is important in providing the necessary stability for moving and lifting. Just focusing on something that is usually an automatic process and letting it become mindful can make a huge difference.
Aerobic exercises are fantastic for increasing cardiovascular functions. Also referred to as cardio or endurance, these exercises allow a person to breathe faster and more deeply, thus maximising oxygen levels in the blood. The better a person's aerobic fitness, the more efficient the heart, lungs and blood vessels are at transporting oxygen around the body - making routine physical tasks much easier to handle. A regular workout even without that extra focus on breathing will help to strengthen lungs over a period of time.
Building up strength and endurance is a key part of a proper training schedule. The benefits from properly executed strength training can include increased bone density, muscle strength and toughness, improved cardiac function and higher metabolism. More obvious benefits include enhanced muscle tone, so strength training is great when used alongside aerobic exercises as part of a weight loss routine.
Stronger muscles improve posture and provide better strength for joints, so it’s definitely worth working on this area. Strength training is generally anaerobic, making it ideal for balancing out aerobic exercise. Gym machines may be used to help build strength, with other popular tools including weighted clothing and Swiss balls, but it’s also possible to train with little or no equipment if necessary.
Focusing on core strength should not be forgotten. The 'core' - the region of the body made up of the abdominal wall, pelvis, lower back and diaphragm - is essential for stabilising the body during movement. Building up a strong core will not only help to prevent injury, it will aid posture and assist in other physical activities. Pilates, sit-ups, crunches and other similar activities, when properly executed, can help greatly here, and should assist with toning and overall strength too. Yoga and Pilates exercises can help breathing patterns as well, enhancing the core muscle workout.
Often overlooked, flexibility is a key part of a proper training schedule. Essential for remaining limber, flexibility training can really help to prevent stiffness in old age while boosting athletic performance. Seeing as it enhances the ability to move, it should be considered an important element for anyone wishing to create a successful fitness regime.
Flexibility can be improved through stretches, and it's best to build these in as part of a cooling down routine, when the muscles are still warm and pliable. Stretching exercises can also help to prepare muscles for exercise as part of a warm-up session. Flexibility is different for everyone, though; some people may have tight hamstrings, while others will find shoulder movement more difficult, so a tailored routine with the right level of variety will be essential.
Going back to proper breathing – doing this whilst stretching can help to relax the mind, allowing a person to focus properly getting their movement right. Yoga and meditation classes can help massively with these techniques. Bear in mind, however, that stretching shouldn’t hurt, and it's important to only take each move so far; 'bouncing' stretches are not recommended as they can cause injury.
The perfect combination
It's easy to see how intrinsically these three components are linked, and ensuring they are all fully explored as part of a routine is the best way to maximise the benefits they offer. Providing the training routine is balanced, the risk of picking up injuries from everyday activities should be minimised too. On top of all of this, there are obvious calorie-burning and mood-lifting benefits to consider.