The benefits of exercise are plenty: Exercise can help prevent numerous conditions — from heart attacks to osteoporosis — and it can also prevent back pain and neck pain.
Flexibility training, strength training, and cardiovascular exercise all play an important role in a healthy exercise routine, and each type of exercise contributes to spinal health.
Flexibility Training and Stretching
Flexibility is something most people take for granted when they are young, but growing older tends to make the importance of stretching and flexibility training much more apparent as range of motion begins to decrease. However, stretching and flexibility training can be incorporated into your workout routine at any age, and you will reap the benefits for years to come. Flexibility training can improve your mobility, balance, stability, and posture, all of which can help you avoid back and neck pain. Flexibility training classes, yoga, and Pilates all can help you improve your stretching technique and contribute to long-term flexibility.
Weight Training and Core Strengthening for Back Pain
You might think strenuous exercise and strength training are more likely to cause a back injury than to prevent one, but training your back and core muscles can significantly improve function and your overall spinal health. On the other hand, with weak back and abdominal muscles, you are more likely to encounter a back strain injury. For best results, you will want to combine weightlifting with strengthening exercises that use your own body weight as resistance to maintain a healthy back and neck. Make sure to vary your workouts, and do not neglect core muscles such as the external obliques and transverse abdominals.
Cardiovascular exercise has many health benefits, and it is an essential part of a well-rounded workout routine. One of the key benefits to cardiovascular exercise is its ability to help with weight loss. Being overweight or obese puts extra strain on your back and can lead to worsening of spinal conditions, so shedding some extra pounds with a little help from cardiovascular activity can mean great things for your back and spine. Cardiovascular exercise also helps you build endurance, which is important for long-term health and can help with rehabilitation from back and spinal injuries. Of course, cardio has wonderful effects on other aspects of health as well, from improving cholesterol levels to lowering blood pressure and improving mood. Because cardiovascular exercise boosts endorphin levels, it can also help relieve symptoms of depression, which can contribute to the chronic pain experienced by some individuals. As if that weren’t enough, cardiovascular activity promotes quality sleep, and a good night’s rest is essential for back and spine health.
Exercise and the Aging
Exercise is important at all ages, but it is particularly important as we age. Loss of function, range of motion, and flexibility are all part of the natural aging process, but maintaining a healthy exercise program can slow these deteriorations. Although vigorous activity can be difficult amongst elderly adults, light aerobic activity still has immense health benefits, especially when compared to no activity at all. The amount of exercise one needs in order to see health benefits might surprise you — you can exercise at an intensity level that allows you to carry on a casual conversation and still see health benefits.1 If you have other health concerns, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or a heart condition, certain activities might not be healthy for you. Ask your doctor about your planned exercise routine, and consider exercising in the presence of a physical trainer if you do not feel comfortable exercising on your own. Remember to listen to your body, and stop exercise immediately if you experience pain other than typical muscle soreness.
The SpineUniverse Exercise Center shows you the best back stretches and neck stretches to keep your spine healthy and strong. Discover the key benefits of exercise as well as how to stay fit.