Active Seniors

How what you do in the 2 hours before exercise is important

So much emphasis is put on how we can maximise the benefits while performing exercise and even after exercise. However there are some important points that need to be considered directly before you exercise that can affect your session.

Body Position

One of these considerations is your body position before exercise. Our ligaments and connective tissues are similar in some ways to an elastic band. If you are in a seated position for an extended amount of time (30+ minutes), it has the same effect as holding an elastic band on stretch. However the good news is that in most instances, given the right circumstances and a bit of time, they return to their previous positions. This temporary stretch can negatively affect your trunk stability and can increase your risk of irritation or injury – especially if you have a history of back pain. The way to combat this is to ensure that for the hour directly before you exercise, you spend some time standing. Standing helps to restore the natural position of these connective tissues thereby reducing your risks when you start exercising. This may mean if you have to drive to a venue for exercise, that you leave a tad earlier to give yourself enough time to stand and prepare.

Time of day

While we are on the topic of spines, the time of day that you exercise can have an impact on how your back (in particular back pain) responds. Within the first hour of being awake (and out of bed) we lose about 90% of the total daily amount of fluid that we will lose in our discs. This loss is important to reduce the stress on the intervertebral disc during bending and twisting movements. For this reason, it is wise to avoid strengthening or flexibility exercises within the first hour of rising. After this hour, the pressure and stress on the disc is much lower.

Nutrition

The final aspects that are important to consider in the time period directly before exercise relate to nutrition. It is important to make sure that in the 1-2 hours before exercise that you have a small meal that is easy to digest and where possible contains protein. Some examples include yoghurt, apple or a hard boiled egg. It is also important to make sure that you stay hydrated. Exercise itself depletes our fluid levels and hence it is important to make sure that you don’t start in a dehydrated state, and that you replenish what is lost during exercise, after you finish.

We hope that you are able to use these simple strategies to maximize the benefit you get from your exercise. Please leave us a comment about any other pre- exercise tips you have.