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Movement & Mechanics Exercises2019-01-23T16:57:10+00:00

Movement & Mechanics Exercises

Physical activity is usually categorized as aerobic, strength, flexibility and balance. Body mechanics, including mobility and posture are also physical activities that are important for overall health.

Aerobic or Endurance

Aerobic or endurance activities increase your heart rate by moving your large muscles and cause you to breathe faster. Aerobic activities are categorized as light, moderate or vigorous intensity based on how hard you have to work to perform the activity.

  • Light intensity activities don’t require much effort and will not cause you to breathe hard
  • Moderate intensity activities cause you to breathe harder and increase your heart rate. On a scale of 0-10, moderate-intensity activity is a 5 or 6, which will allow you to talk but not sing (1)
  • Vigorous intensity activities are a 7 or 8 on the intensity scale and you usually can’t say more than a few words without stopping for a breath while doing these activities (1)

Examples of aerobic and endurance activities include:

  • Sports such as tennis, basketball, soccer, football, hockey
  • Walking, jogging, running, hiking
  • Climbing stairs
  • Swimming
  • Bicycling, skateboarding, ice skating, rollerblading, jumping rope
  • Dancing
  • Yard work and gardening
  • Pushing a cart while shopping
  • Aerobic exercise classes

Strength Building

Strength building activities use resistance to improve the strength and endurance of your muscles and your bones.

To be most effective, strength building activities should focus on the upper body, core and lower body. Upper body strength building exercises include bench presses, pushups and pull ups. Lower body strength building exercises include squats, deadlifts and glute raises. Core strengthening exercises include planks, crunches and hanging leg raises.

Flexibility

Flexibility is the ability to stretch or bend muscles without injury. Having flexible muscles decreases your chance of injuring yourself and improves your physical performance. Having good flexibility improves blood flow to muscles, decreasing the risk of diabetes, kidney disease and other conditions.

There are two types of stretches:
  1. Dynamic stretch – repeated challenging motions that allows the stretch to be felt further with each repetition. Dynamic stretches are often done safely before warming up because they don’t require deep stretching. Movements such as torso twists, walking lunges and leg swings are considered dynamic stretches.
  2. Static stretch – deep, slow, single movement held in place for a length of time. Warming up is necessary before static stretches to prevent injury. Hamstring stretches, quadricep stretches and shoulder stretches are examples of static stretches.

Some activities, like yoga and Pilates combine both dynamic and static stretching.

Balance

Balance exercises improve balance and coordination, which improves physical performance and decreases the risk of injury by strengthening core muscles. Improving balance can also help improve running technique.

For some, simply walking can help improve balance. Walking backwards or sideways and walking heel to toe in a straight line are walking activities that can improve balance. Other balance activities include standing on one leg at a time, balancing on an upside down bosu ball and twist jumps.

Mobility

While flexibility is the ability of the muscles to stretch, mobility encompasses the flexibility of the muscles, joint movement, and motor control. Like flexibility and balance, having good mobility increases physical performance and decreases the risk of injury.

Mobility training can improve the range of motion of joints and muscles, improve posture, help with aches and pain, improve physical performance and decrease the chance of injury. Examples of mobility exercises include arm circles, side bends, half squats, kneeling hip flexor stretches and foam rolling.

Posture

Posture is the position we hold while sitting or standing. Having good posture puts less strain on ligaments and muscles, decreases pain and fatigue, and helps us work more efficiently while decreasing the risk of injury.

In addition to being more mindful of your posture and correcting your posture throughout the day, exercises that build core muscles can also improve posture. Taking stretching breaks when sitting or standing for long periods can also help. Stretches like wall angels, chin tucks and hip flexor stretches can help improve your posture.

References:

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Physical Activity and Your Heart, Accessed November 1st, 2018, <https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/physical-activity-and-your-heart>