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Are You Suffering The Effects Of Being A ‘Weekend Warrior?'

Remember that scene on the ship in Raiders of the Lost Ark, where Marion Ravenwood is dismayed by Indiana Jones’ collection of bruises, scrapes, and scars? “It’s not the years, honey,” he says. “It’s the mileage.”

woman stretchingWe don’t have to be getting the stuffing beaten out of us for that mileage to accumulate. Life does the job quite well on its own. The worst mileage often comes from not being physically active enough—like spending the work week at a desk or in a car or in front of the TV.

And then we attack the weekend with gusto, hitting the ice in that recreation hockey league, or tackling all that fall yard maintenance that needs to get done before the snow falls. Too often, we see people who follow this pattern neglect to engage in even the most basic of stretching and warmup routines prior to and after these physical activities.

Instead, they shock their systems by diving right in. Afterward, post-game or post-activity stretching is an afterthought. Commitments to family, work, and activities for the kids derail any other “preventative maintenance” during the week. If they are stiff or sore from the activity, they often reach for that topical muscle cream or those pain medications as a quick fix.

How much does this sound like you, or your spouse?

It’s classic “weekend warrior” behaviour.

Regardless of your age, amount of exercise or diet, our bodies do change as we get older. You may not be able to dive into the same physical activity with the same intensity that you did a decade before. Even if you can, it may take you longer to warm up for it and then you may not bounce back as quickly from whatever stiffness or soreness that may result.

It’s why we see those headlines in the news every year, about the risk of heart attack from snow shovelling, or someone suffering cardiac arrest at the ice rink and needing to be resuscitated with a portable defibrillator.

Even by the time we hit our thirties, our metabolisms may have shifted, making it easier for unwanted pounds to accumulate. We may have begun to suffer the effects of sarcopenia—a natural part of aging in which our bodies begin to lose muscle mass and tone (unless you hit the gym to do something about it). Joints may begin to lose their flexibility and mobility, making them more prone to injury—a process that is accelerated if you are sedentary most of the time.

That’s why it is so important to stretch!

By which we mean, engage in warmup and cool down routines to get your blood pumping and joints and muscles ready for the abuse you are about to inflict on them. Preventative maintenance is key to reduce your risk of injury.

This doesn’t only pertain to the 10 minutes before and after a demanding physical activity. Stretching to relax tight muscles and joints is just as important to do on a daily basis throughout the week to recover from all those hours you spend at a workstation or behind the wheel.

It doesn’t take much – literally just a couple of minutes several times throughout the day.

And hit the gym

Even if it is only once a week in between your weekend warrior activities. More physical activity more often is crucial to improve your circulation and heart health, maintain strong muscles and joints, and offset the other physical effects of aging. But here again, this isn’t about just pumping out reps and sets. It’s about using this time effectively to stretch and work on your mobility, in addition to weight training and cardio.

Everything each of us does on a day-to-day basis will affect our life down the road … either positively or negatively. The impact of the day-by-day choices we make are not always evident, but they do add up.

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