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SpecialistMichael, MS, CSCS
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Experience:  Senior Information Specialist
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What is the best form of exercise & who best to consult

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What is the best form of exercise & who best to consult
Hi there my name is XXXXX XXXXX you for using JustAnswer. This is a nice combination answer and I can provide you with some insight to the best combinations of exercise and the benefits of each.

I see you have already been walking and stretching. I can tell you immediately that stretching is always overlooked but is an absolutely essential part of fitness both before during and after any other exercise. People tend to focus on weight training or cardio(both of which I will get in to) as a way to change their physique and stay healthy but stretching is what keeps people limber, helps to ward of injury from overstretching, provides a very nice warm up component as well as a way to cool down and allows the muscles(which naturally want to shorten) a way to transport metabolic waste(from inside the muscles from exercise) while providing an endorphin driven relaxation effect. Stretching is also a component of maintaining a healthy posture, which nobody ever considers.

Cardiovascular(aerobic) exercise is essential for heart and pulmonary health. Examples of these are walking, jogging and running, biking, any sort of hiking or traditional sports. The important of cardiovascular training is that it keeps the heart healthy and efficient, provides an upregulated "reserve" in situations of stress, as well as providing the body with a better exchange of oxygen and waste products. Cardio is what keeps the heart strong, "flexible and capable of dealing with intense(both relative and absolute) activity over long periods of time. There is a strong relationship between cardiovascular exercise and total body(and heart health). General recommendations are 30 minutes a day of vigorous exercise most days of the week here in the US. This can even be in the form of gardening or weeding, and then walking and the various other things I mentioned before.

Strength training is a component of building muscular strength and tone. It can encompass only body weight exercises, but can also be free weight or machine driven resistance(like that found at a fitness center or gym). Strength training is important as strength plays a big role in balance and stability as well as a general physical preparedness that accompanies doing heavier tasks(moving larger objects, climbing stairs etc). This can as simple as doing upper body exercises with soup cans, climbing stairs or hills(also a big cardio component depending on fitness level) but can also be the traditionally thought of weight training.

Balance and stability - basically what it sounds like. The reason this is important is simply because the word is an unstable place. The reason ankle sprains for example happen many times is that muscles of the lower leg are simply not trained to control the ankle well(because everything we walk on is flat and firm) so when a person steps off a curb at an odd angle, if the ankle isn't trained to control that foot there is a potential for injury. Elderly populations falling over when they reach to pick something up is another example of a need for stability and strength training combined. So simple balance and stability exercises can be sprinkled in throughout the day. Standing on one foot for 30 sec a time(or building up to 30 seconds) that graduating for a minute or 2... using something to grab(like a counter top) in case you tip is a very common example and most people don't realize how unstable and uncoordinated they are standing on one foot for more than a few seconds.

Calisthenics - is a little combination of all three, but generally done at a quicker pace. Jumping jacks are an example of calisthenics but some people actually consider body weight strength training to be this.. so it all depends on who you ask.

Ideally your exercise routine would be roughly as follows:
A mild warm up of a brisk walk
Gentle stretching to lengthen and prepare muscles and connective tissues for activity
A strength component which could be alternated with aerobics for cardiovascular training
A cool down type stretching routine
- all done 3-6 days a week depending on your fitness level. It seems a bit redundant but its just as important to warm up and cool down as the actual exercising is.

Obviously the lower the intensity level the longer you can exercise for. For example many people take a nice long walk following dinner at night. But intense pro athletes only train and compete for shorter times.

Does this all make sense without being overwhelming? Ideally a fit, healthy, capable person will have a little of everything sprinkled into their fitness routine.. or even their daily life if setting aside time to exercise is tough. You can do exercise all day - park farther away, take the stairs, walk from one end of the store to the other instead of parking close.

To answer it : there is not one single best form but many in combination. If you were only allowed 1 and 1 only, I would say cardio only because the rest of the body will respond based on what it has to overcome.

If this has helped, please remember to press accept so that I am credited for my time assisting you. We can continue to correspond if you would like, simply hit reply.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Are the exercises the same for a wedge fracture of L1 18 months ago, having been told to be careful comments please
Hi there Nancy, I hope all is well.

This answer is going to be based on physician recommendation so definitely consult him or her and just run everything by him/her. Chances are you're probably cleared 100 percent but there may be a few things to stay away from if only for a little bit. The obvious part to this is keep unwanted bending loads off of the spine. There isn't a large amount of motion at L1 compared to other segments but you still need to be cautious based off his recommendation. The stretching gently should be fine, the balance is OK. Walking and cardio provided its not involving tons of pounding is great. The biggest issue is going to be load bearing and any dynamic stuff from the calisthenics where you would be bending or bending while twisting - which in older populations is a little dangerous sometimes.

The safe thing is to just quickly double check with your physician and see if he has any limits for you, asking if you are limited to any types of motions or exercise as its dependent on the fracture(not just type and location) - otherwise I would get started on your walking and balance :)

If this has helped, please remember to press accept so I am credited with assisting you. Also we can continue our correspondence by simply pressing reply, even after accepting each answer.

Laughing Mike
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