Exercise is an important part of being healthy and fit. To have a well-balanced exercise plan, you should incorporate aerobic, strengthening, stretching, and flexibility components.
Why is exercise important?
Exercise is an important part of improving and maintaining normal, comfortable back function. It is important to exercise regularly so that you can maintain your fitness level.
What are the different types of exercise?
Exercise can be divided into 3 basic groups:
Strengthening: using repeated muscle contractions until the muscle becomes tired.
Stretching or flexibility: slow, sustained lengthening of the muscle.
Aerobic: steady exercise using large muscle groups.
All exercises should be performed slowly and comfortably to avoid injury. When performing strengthening and flexibility exercises, remember to breathe naturally. Do NOT hold your breath. Exhale during exertion and inhale during relaxation.
A program of strengthening, stretching, and aerobic exercises will improve your overall fitness level. Research shows that people who are physically fit are more resistant to back injuries and pain, and recover more quickly when they do have injuries than those who are less physically fit.
Strengthening exercises help increase muscle tone and improve the quality of muscles.
Muscle strength and endurance provide energy and a feeling of wellness to help you perform daily, routine activities.
Adequate strength of abdominal and back muscles helps stabilize the spine, allows proper spinal movement and makes it easier to maintain correct posture. Strong hip and leg muscles are important to use proper lifting techniques and body mechanics.
Flexibility is the ability to move your arms and legs through their full range of motion. Stretching will help improve your flexibility.
Adequate flexibility of tissues around the spine and pelvis allows full, normal spinal movement, prevents abnormal force on the joints, and decreases the risk of injury. Stretching also prepares muscles for activity; stretching should be done before and after each vigorous workout to prevent muscle strain and soreness, and to help avoid injuries.
When performing flexibility exercises, stretch as far as you can and hold the stretch for 10 seconds and then ease back. Each stretching exercise should be performed slowly, with no sudden jerking or bouncing. Bouncing is more likely to injure or strain a muscle or joint.
Aerobic exercise provides cardiovascular conditioning. It strengthens the heart and lungs, and improves the body's ability to use oxygen. Other benefits of aerobic exercise include increased energy levels, improved mood, better sleep habits, and lower blood pressure. Aerobic exercise also burns calories and improves your metabolism, helping with weight loss. Some examples of aerobic exercise include:
In general, to achieve maximum benefits, you should gradually work up to an aerobic session lasting 15 to 60 minutes, 3 or 4 times a week.
Please check with your physician before starting any aerobic program. Ask your physical therapists how to start an aerobic exercise program.
Your exercise routine should consist of a 5-minute warm-up (including stretching exercises) before the aerobic activity and 5 to 10 minutes of a cool down (stretching and slower activity) after the activity.
Here are some precautions to consider regarding aerobic exercise:
Jumping rope puts too much pressure on the disks and should be avoided.
Running can be done as long as it doesn't increase lower back pain.
When walking or running, wear supportive, well-cushioned shoes and walk or run on a level surface.
What should I know about pain during exercise?
Do not ignore pain. If you feel increased pain or pain spreading to the legs, do not continue the activity. If you continue to perform the activity while you are in pain, you may cause unnecessary stress or damage to your joints. Seek the advice of a physician or physical therapist. Fear of pain can cause unnecessary inactivity. Learn to "read" your body and know when you need to stop an activity.
These recommendations are for people who are currently not experiencing back pain. Modifications are necessary if you have back pain. Do not continue to perform an exercise that produces pain. Seek the advice of a physician or physical therapist.
When to work out
Some people are early birds while others like to save exercise for the evening. If you’re lucky, you may even have the flexibility to workout during the day. Here are the advantages of each.
Early bird gets the worm (and also gets exercise out of the way first). For most people, a morning workout also sets the pace for a healthy day, making it slightly easier to say no to office treats or an extra slice of pizza at lunch. It also helps rev the metabolism so you burn more calories throughout the day. Try high-intensity-interval training (HIIT) to get more done in less time. Depending on how early you squeeze in a sweat session, there’s a chance you can avoid gym crowds. Plus, morning workouts mean you won’t have to turn down an office happy hour or trade exercise for any other after-work activity. Morning workouts don’t have to totally derail your routine; sometimes, 20 minutes is all you need to keep your body and mind healthy.
If you work remotely or have a job that allows for a flexible schedule, there are many great reasons to hit the gym midday. In fact, science indicates a midday workout can help combat the 2 pm blues and make you feel more productive when you return to your desk. That seems like the best lunch break ever—just make sure to fuel up properly with a healthy post-workout snack when you return to work.
With a hectic work schedule, sometimes evenings are the best option. While working out after a long day at the office may sound like a drag, there are some great advantages to being an exercise night owl. For starters, it’s a great way to release tension or stress from the day. Also, contrary to previous research, some studies now suggest that people who lift in the evening have better quality of sleep than people who workout in the morning. And if you go after the 5 p.m. rush hour of exercisers, you’ll likely avoid major crowds at the gym.