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One Step at a Time

By Brent Bishop

Fitness for the Healthy Mind

My protocol with many of my clients who want to improve their physical and mental health is to incorporate a strength and conditioning approach that integrates core, balance, coordination, and agility. This formula lends nicely to enhancing performance and reducing injury risk in activities such as running and other sports while improving mental focus, reducing stress, and positively affecting brain health. Additionally, regular recovery exercise within the program is essential for improving performance and reducing stress. The following are some Bishop-approved exercises that align nicely with physical and mental health goals.

Foam Rolling

Using recovery tools like a foam roller can be an effective way to release tight tissues. For example, rolling out your legs before activities such as running can help drive circulation to the muscles and potentially reduce the tension that may be present, therefore positively impacting performance. Using these techniques post-exercise may assist in recovery and the reduction of muscle soreness post-exercise.

Walking Lunges

Isolation exercises such as bicep curls and tricep extensions are great for building strength, predominantly within one primary muscle; however, incorporating compound movements such as a lunge can be a functional way to train your body as a unit. The lunge is one of my go-to exercises as it is so effective for building foundational strength in the entire lower body while improving core and pelvic stability. Partnering up on activities like these is not only great for motivation, but the added social aspect can also provide further benefit for your mental health.

Plyometrics

Advancing a standard strength exercise like the step-up by adding a jumping element can effectively progress intensity while improving power. Improving power can translate to better performance when it comes to activities and sports that require speed and agility.

Agility Drills

Incorporating footwork with tools like the speed ladder can be very effective for improving your cardiovascular conditioning and your coordination and speed. For a runner, this can translate to a more vigorous run, an improved ability to sustain a faster pace, and enhancing her ability to tackle uneven terrain.

Stability and Balance

Exercise tools like the stability ball can provide a new training stimulus to challenge your balance and stability. Pelvic-lumbar stability and core strength are critical to maintaining good posture, full-body strength, and power while also reducing injury risk. The additional proprioception and mental focus required can help improve your body awareness and your ability to adapt to changes to your center of gravity. This can present advantages to improving sports performance and your body’s resilience to falls.

Boxing

The physical stamina, coordination, and mental focus required in boxing make it one of the most effective conditioning exercises. Boxing is a personal favorite when it comes to ramping up my own fitness routine. In addition to it, I often incorporate boxing with my clients who want to improve their cardiovascular health, stamina, muscular endurance, and weight management. The added benefits of stress reduction, improved self-confidence, and a sense of empowerment make this a well-rounded form of exercise.

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