The role of exercise and sports when it comes to health and fitness.

by Oct 14, 2019

You consider yourself a very active individual – you play hockey once a week with your friends and you meet up with your best friend every Tuesday evening at the tennis court. You purposefully walk from your workplace to your house five days a week and often times hit the gym on the way home just because it feels good to lift some weights from time to time.

If this is what your average week looks like, kudos to you. You are more active than the 31% of inactive individuals across the globe. Having an active lifestyle is a big achievement (if you consider how inactive and lazy most people are nowadays), and you are definitely on the right track to living a healthy and happy life.

That being said, I would like to raise a question.

Are all of these activities, and your current lifestyle, helping you to improve the quality of your life and level of fitness overall?

Regardless of how active you are, do you ever feel disappointed in how you look or wonder why you can’t lose those extra five pounds around your waist? Or, are you just so tired and frustrated with having to deal with shoulder pain that has been bothering you for the past 12 months? Are your knees kind of sore too? There’s something missing here, and you may be wondering what else you could add, or change, in your routine to help you achieve your fitness goals

Exercise versus Sports

I want to make a clear distinction between exercise and any type of recreational activity, such as sports. Mistakenly, we often think that exercise and sports are synonymous with each other. Well, there is a huge difference between the two. Let’s define both of them and specify why they are so different.

Exercise refers to a volitional muscular effort that is performed with the intent of creating an inroad in our functional capabilities in order to trigger a physiological adaptation within our system.

Simply put, exercise needs to be of a certain nature and with the purpose of improving your health by substantially increasing your muscle mass and inducing an adaptation in your body.

There are several benefits related to exercise, such as improving your body composition (more muscles, less fat), making your bones stronger, improving your cardiovascular system, increasing metabolism, improving energy levels, enhancing cognitive function, lowering inflammation, improving your sleep, and many more.

Exercise is like medicine in that it needs to be thoughtfully prescribed based on individual needs, capabilities, and limitations. Exercise is considered a form of proactive health care with antiaging effects. It is also the best remedy and/or preventive strategy against modern disease. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Yep, it’s so powerful. Check out my article here on the purpose of exercise. 

Sports activities involve physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

Sports still involves physical effort, yet they have a significantly different purpose in comparison to exercise. In fact, they actually have opposite goals: health versus entertainment. Are you surprised? Good.

Playing sports is fun and keeps us mentally healthy, while being physically active. It depends on the nature, but sport can also be dangerous and detrimental for your overall joint health. If not managed properly, sudden and explosive movements can be dangerous for joints, muscles, and tendons since they involve high stresses and forces placed on your body’s anatomical structures.

Now, I am not demonizing sports. I simply want you to understand the basic differences between exercise and sports and consider if what you are doing is aligned with your goals.

What do you value the most, health or entertainment?

There’s no ONE correct answer. I believe that both are required to maintain a healthy lifestyle, physically and mentally! In fact, your biggest mistake may be that you are focusing on the quantity rather on the quality of your work and effort. More does NOT necessarily mean better or healthier. More can be, oftentimes, detrimental to your body as well as on the mind.

After years of experience, and coaching hundreds of people, it appears that there’s a common goal shared among most people, and fitness enthusiasts, that engage in ANY type of physical activity. The majority of the population wants to be healthy and in their best shape, be fully functional, and still have the time to enjoy the company of friends and significant others. Does this sound like you? Excellent, we are on the same page!

So, here is my recommendation to you and what I believe is best for long term health and longevity. If you don’t have already a gym membership, get one ASAP. Consider hiring a personal trainer who can teach you how to safely do basic movements and exercises. Check out my services and how I can help you here.

I don’t want to generalize here, but if you are healthy and your joints are in a good/decent shape, I’d recommend that you start with the program below. Do this routine for the first four weeks to consolidate the basics and learn (or relearn) proper form and technique:

-Chest press 3×10

-Leg press 3×10

-Lat pulldown 3×10

-Shoulder press 3×10

-Rows 3×10

Nothing fancy or too complicated. Here are some tips:

  • Focus on moving in a slow, concentrated fashion: 5 seconds up and 5 seconds down
  • Pay attention to your form and the muscles you are using to move the weight
  • Do not only focus on the weight you are lifting, instead, focus on muscular contraction

This is a great book that I highly recommend it if you want to improve your form and prevent injuries while you working out.

You should expect and want your muscles to burn, at the minimum! This is key to efficiently strengthening your muscles and eventually achieving your physical goals. You can exercise 2 to 3 times per week, it all depends from your schedule, needs, and goals. Once again, prioritize the quality of the work and not quantity!
Dive deep into Body by Science if you want to understand the mechanisms behind muscle growth and optimize progress with limited time invested.

I do believe that resistance training, in conjunction with any type of sports activity, is actually necessary and fundamental for injury prevention and enhanced performance. Stronger muscles will protect the integrity of your joints, and your bones will adapt by becoming more dense and resilient. Strength training will improve your flexibility and power. With a more resilient body, you will be able to perform better, while having fun, and most importantly stay injury-free.

I’d recommend you to read The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance. This book has taught me a lot in relation to exercise and injury prevention.

To wrap this up, I think that in order for you to be healthy, happy, and fulfill your best physical goals, you need to be honest with yourself. Realize what you are capable of doing, what is most important to you, and the type of life you want to achieve. Understand this well, your body is the temple where your mind resides and your spirit thrives, it is our duty to take care of all three areas.

Like what you read? Do you have general questions or want to know more about where to begin? I can help you set up your goals and guide you on a clear path to excellence. Book a free consultation with me here.