Do you want to get a well-balanced workout in and get the most “bang for your buck?” As a physical therapist for the past ten years, I can tell you the most well-balanced workout that will keep you fit and healthy now and also into the future. There are a few key pieces to the puzzle that coordinate for a perfect program for you, and here are my top five keys to success.

Strength Training

Strengthening is extremely important as we age, as this is how we develop and maintain proper muscle mass and decrease muscle atrophy. Our muscles keep our body safe and injury-free and help to support our joints, bones, and ligaments. Strength-training should be performed three days a week, and a well-balanced routine includes the upper body, lower body and core.  

Flexibility and Mobility Training

Flexible muscles work at their full potential and allow for us to move like our bodies were made to do. If muscles are not flexible it can lead to feelings of pain, tightness, and injuries. The lack of flexibility can also hinder our movement and cause abnormal or restricted movement patterns. We want to feel free to move and be mobile, thus proper flexibility is key.

Balance Training

Did you know you can train your body to have improved balance and stability? Balance and stabilization training are key to an exercise routine. This keeps us in tune with our proprioception, which is the body and mind connection. In other words, when we work on our balance our brain is able to be more apt at figuring out where our body is at in space. Thus, there is decreased risk of injury and an improved ability to move our bodies in the way we would like to.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Proper “heart muscle” training helps our bodies to function more efficiently. This is great for staving off diseases and also keeps our endurance and aerobic capacity up at a high level. This can include any activity that makes your heart beat faster, for example: running, dancing, fast-paced walking, high intensity interval training or sports.

Rest

We may not think of rest as being part of a well-rounded and balanced exercise program, however this is extremely important. Rest days should be taken at least once a week for our bodies to rebuild, and it is ok to take more rest days if you feel like you need to. This “rest” also refers to getting enough sleep at night. While we sleep our brain and bodies heal and repair, and most of us require at least seven to nine hours of sleep. Allow yourself to get enough sleep, and you will see improved energy and mood while you are awake as well as better capacity to be successful in your new workout routine.

It is very exciting to begin a well-balanced exercise routine, and these tips will help you achieve your goals! It’s advised to seek out the advice of a physical therapist for specific testing to determine the specific exercises for you as well as to determine if you are healthy and safe to begin today. Now you have all the pieces to the puzzle to feel great.