Fitness of the future
Written by: Galina Pembroke
Just 30 minutes of daily exercise
can alleviate the risk of heart attack and diabetes, says the
World Health Organization. Along with "walking buses" and
bicycles that play videogames, an adaptable concept of exercise
is helping a busier world stay in shape.
You don't NEED a personal trainer to learn proper
technique. Modern exercise physiologists agree on
the following tips:
WALKING: Stand tall and look directly ahead. Keeping
your chin up will reduce strain on your neck and
back. Elbows should be at your sides at a 90-degree
angle. To walk faster try rolling your feet from
heel to toe. This requires flexible shoes.
ROWING MACHINE: Keep your back straight as you pull,
and make sure to contract your abs. Initiate movement
by pushing with hips and legs rather than pulling
with arms and lower back.
STATIONARY BIKE: Adjust the seat; it's too high
if your hips rock as you pedal and too low if your
knees hurt afterward. To protect your knees, spin
at 90 rpm or higher. If you're struggling, lower
THE NEXT DECADE will see a trend towards home
workouts. "Working longer hours, crowded gyms at peak times
and queues for equipment has fuelled the trend for exercising at
home," says Nick Cahusac; managing marketer of the independent
fitness retailer, UK's Fitness Workout. Some of the new, home sweat-sessions
will merge entertainment with exercise. The new Reebok Cyber Rider
is a good example. Instead of "pay as you go" at a gym,
you can take this bike with built-in game controllers and "play
as you go." The faster you pedal, the faster your game of
choice - computer or Playstation - plays. Another new invention
claiming to be an improvement on the traditional is the WaterRower.
Despite its name, you don't need an indoor pool to use it. In fact,
the only water needed is the H20 poured into its Water Flywheel.
Filling this empty orb with liquid simulates a drag effect, much
like being in an actual boat. This allows consistent resistance,
evenly working the legs, torso and arms. In contrast, conventional
rowers start heavy on each pull and finish light. Since this exercises
the legs first, they can get overbuilt.
Despite this exciting new technology, many people are choosing
conventional methods. Hiking, walking, cycling, bowling, and squash
enjoy sustained popularity. While walking in particular has persisted,
perhaps out of simple necessity, people are taking a new approach
to this old habit. The UK's growing trend of "walking buses" is
one example. These consist of groups of children walking to school
with their parents along recognized bus routes. On the way, they
collect other children. Participants say the benefits of these "walking
buses" include being social, safe, and good for the environment.
Cycling is also globally friendly, but with different benefits.
Like walking, cycling increases cardiovascular health, but adds
the benefit of working the quadriceps and hamstrings. If you're
thinking of taking up cycling, try venturing out with your parents.
Age-friendly fitness is growing in popularity. Recognizing this,
the Netherlands' national cycling organization now runs courses
for older cyclists to encourage them to keep pedaling.
But not everyone enjoys long periods of exercise. Thankfully, we can get the
benefits of fitness without dripping sweat until we drop. The World Health Organization
insists that short bursts of activity, whether stretching at the desk or doing
a long stretch of dishes, is heart healthy - as long as it totals 30 minutes
daily. This also includes the sporadic squat-and-stroll of bowling, which feels
more like play than physical work. Even these small efforts will reduce our risk
of obesity. However, there's something to be said for effort-induced-perspiration.
Along with laughter, it's one of the few prescription-free ways of enjoying painkilling,