Friday, August 03, 2012
There is a recurring question asked on the boards which makes no sense to me and that question is; what is the distraction you use to “get you through your workout?” What distraction do you use when brushing your teeth, taking a shower or any of the other things you do every day which relate to your health and well being? Note the first four letters of the word, w o r k. Our health and fitness is something we need to work at maintaining if we are going to maintain our health and ability just as we do work to earn a living. If we decide that maintaining our health and fitness is some onerous task we need a crutch to get us through it, to survive it and keep us doing it then we are programming ourselves to fail. Will James said” the energy we send out is the energy which returns” so if we are not devoting our attention and energy to what we are doing when working out what do we have the right to expect in return?
In the hippie era the mantra promoted by Timothy Leary was “tune in, turn on and drop out” however it is not the best way to work out but many do just that. They “tune in” their music, TV, their iPod or cell phone, “turn on” the treadmill and then “drop out” mentally into a mechanical mindless automaton mechanical running or walking motion for a present number of minutes. It is a “Sound of Music” approach to working out, “a little bit of sugar helps the medicine go down”. If they are running out of doors they insert ear buds, turn on the tunes and block themselves from the sounds around them and becoming unaware of things going on which can be dangerous if running other than on a dedicated park trail or running track.
Many avoid resistance training since it requires concentration to strength train effectively and they find it “boring”. Boring is doing something in a purely mechanical way, going through the motions rather than concentrating and devoting attention to the activity to ensure it is being done in the most positive and beneficial way. While it can be ineffective and boring to do the same set of exercises every workout the number of different ways of doing the same exercises can provide variety and additional challenges precluding the onset of boredom.
Working out to a DVD is a distraction since you will always be at least a half a beat behind the instructor, you have to see the move through to completion before you can execute it or you are trying to both see the move and execute it simultaneously which can degrade the quality of the movement you are attempting to do. Just going through the motions or doing some alternate movement defeats the specific design of the sequence.The distraction would be diminished if the sequence of telling you what to do, demonstrating what you are to do then having you execute it was followed. If you do it enough times then you can imprint it to your memory and execute it in time with the instructor and obtain the full benefit of the exercise sequence.
There is a current urban myth called “multitasking” however the research reality is that you can only serial task. Maxwell Maltz M.D. explained this in his book “Psycho-Cybernetics” published in 1960 based on research done earlier by Norbert Weiner which was published in his book “The Human Use of Human Beings”. Current research has revalidated the earlier works cited above. If the research is accepted then the concept of “multitasking” while exercising loses validity since you can only concentrate on one thing at a time. If we cannot read a good book while attempting to monitor the TV or cook a meal without some impending culinary disaster while chatting on the phone why should we assume that we can get a quality workout while diverting our attention to some extraneous activity.
Intensity triumphs over duration unless we are training for an endurance based activity and intensity requires concentration to ensure the proper execution of what we are doing. Concentration precludes boredom, therefore the key to effective workouts is to find something you are willing to concentrate on and ensure you do not put your workouts on autopilot and simply go through the motions