Ever notice that the advertising we see for fitness products has extremely fit people either sweating it out and loving it, or standing around at the gym looking great? There is even an implied sexiness about it. As we all know…sex sells.
What gives here?
Are we supposed to aspire to be like these people? Are we convinced that if we just get off our duffs we can advance ourselves to look like these specimens? Can this happen to us after joining a gym and going a few times?
The answer to all of these questions of course is “no”. But marketing continues to put these images out in front of us, perhaps to inspire? Or, more likely, they are just hoping you will buy whatever it is. After that, you are on your own.
Where am I going with this? Well, actually I want to focus on something called “neuromuscular training.” Before you press the “delete” button, hear me out! Neuromuscular training IS sexy! Maybe you don’t care about marketing (sex sells), so let me put it another way.
What It Is
Let’s back up a minute. If you are someone who works out regularly, not at all, or in between, neuromuscular training is good to know about.
So, what is it? It’s a way of training your nervous system, sensory receptors, and muscles to work together. When they do, it makes your movements more precise, coordinated, and balanced.
You might be thinking that your nerves and muscles always work together. After all, it is nerves that fire up muscles. Without that system, we would not be moving.
What It Isn’t
It’s true that our nerves and muscles always work together. However, we can certainly shut parts of that system down by not using it. Sitting on the couch comes to mind. That is the extreme version. There are plenty of other ways to cause your neuromuscular system to poop out in one way or another. Here’s a short list:
- As mentioned, sitting around a lot.
- Using the strength training machines at the gym to the exclusion of other modes of training. Yes, you can get stronger that way, but it is not a way to work on your coordination or balance.
- Doing the same workout routine over and over. Yes, it is a good thing to have a workout routine. But your body will adapt to it and your nerves and muscles will not be learning anything new.
- Getting older (sorry). It is very typical for older folks to lose coordination, and balance. Some of this is an inevitable part of aging, but a great deal of it is not.
What to do?
In our quest for keeping fit, there is no need to look like those (sexy) marketing wiz kids mentioned above. What IS a good idea, however, is the following. Please notice that these things are eminently doable! In fact, they are more doable than sweating it out on a Peloton for 90 minutes or loading yourself up with heavy weights as you squat.
- Walk. Simple, right? In actual fact, walking is a total body endeavor involving balance, coordination, and your energy systems. Regular walkers report smoother gaits, greater efficiency of movement, and greater confidence in their activities throughout the day.
- Dance. Whatever style you choose, dancing gets your body working together in a flow. It also involves a variety of motions that keeps your body tuned up for whatever comes next.
- Exercises dedicated to using balance and coordination. Things like lunges, squats with a jump as you come up, crossing one foot in front of the other as you move sideways, standing on a Bosu, or touching your opposite shoulder as you come up from a push-up. The possibilities are endless!
If you are doing any of these things, you may not have realized the benefits go beyond just keeping things interesting. Any time you can expand your usual repertoire of movement, challenge your balance, or even change the pace of what you are doing, it’s a plus. In doing so, you are creating a situation of challenge for your body that can add to your quality of life now and in the future. Now THAT is sexy!
© 2022 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved.
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