Progression and continuity in exercise

If you don't own any workout clothes, this article won't interest you. If you do, you might give a little thought to two words that work together to keep you jogging down that fitness path: progression and continuity. They can mean the difference between a sports injury and maintaining the ability to exercise.

Progression and continuity are extremely important for every athlete. Continuity of your particular sport is the sequence in which you practice your sport. Are you working out every other day, each day or just on the weekends? Try to be consistent with the number of times per week that you exercise. When you drop to only exercising on the weekends and leave out any workout during the week, your muscles lose elasticity and strength between weekends, giving you more chance for leg muscle and ligament injuries. Your muscles will lack give or rebound.

When you've worked your sport into a consistent pattern, consider the word "progression." It refers to the amount of overload you add to your body each time you work out. You might want to add weight, frequency or duration of the time you spend at your sport or exercise program. Each one of these factors will work as an overload on your body to help build and strengthen. The amount of overload or progression you add should be in increments of such small degrees that your body will not notice the extra stress.

One of the major problems with today's exercise enthusiast is that he or she totally forgets that the body is being used in other daily tasks. Whether you work out or not, you are using those same muscles and ligaments all day long in some form of movement pattern. If you are a nurse, the back, shoulders and legs will be greatly stressed even before you hit your exercise class. If you are a casino worker, you are likely to be on your feet all day on cement floors, already stressing feet, ankles and hips before you begin any aerobics. Take a good look at your daily stresses before you begin a progressive overload pattern for building up your body.

Build the continuity and progression of your workout around your lifestyle. Most beginning exercisers will expect the exercise to cure physical problems. Few people will map out a program best suited for the whole health picture. And beginning exercise students don't know what is the best intensity of fitness for your body.

The best way to incorporate exercise progression is to use your style of movement for building intensity within the program itself. If you plan on jogging, do a little quadriceps and hamstring stretching first, and start out with an easy walk. Work up to your jog after the muscles are warm; that's progression. Bring in the blood supply and add circulation of that blood before you begin a run.

When you drop workouts for longer than two weeks, you are breaking the continuity of your exercise pattern. When you begin again with a full speed and duration program, you are progressively overloading your unprepared body and subjecting yourself to injury. Often these types of injuries are severe and can require a great deal of recovery time.

It does take longer to think out a safe method of exercise, but it is time well spent when you consider the time you may spend on crutches or waiting to heal.

n Jerry Vance is owner of The Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Senior Center.


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