Creating an exercise program for Maggie

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by Carrie Smith, Kemptville Physiotherapy Centre

You may have read about Maggie Boyer’s commitment to exercise every day until the end of the year to raise $10,000 for a women’s hospital in Cambodia. While we applaud Maggie’s initiative and purpose, it’s important to start on the right exercise program, to avoid injury and stay committed!

Maggie approached me with her idea about daily exercise, and I was happy to help her out and get her going on the right program. She had already started herself, but, with only a few weeks in, had already started to do the wrong things!

First of all, she was training every day…WRONG! Your body needs at least one day OFF every week. This helps your muscles and joints recover, gives you a much-needed mental break, and helps avoid over-training and over-use injuries. Pick one day a week where you don’t schedule a work-out. This doesn’t mean you have to lie on the couch and binge watch Netflix once a week; but you don’t do a specific weight training work-out. Take the dog for a walk, hit the beach for some summer fun, or go for an easy bike ride on your day off.

Secondly, she was doing the same exercises every day…WRONG! Loading muscles and joints the same way every day leads to breakdown, boredom, and injury. Focus on breaking up the days into specific body zones: upper body, lower body, and core; and then repeat this cycle twice, to give you six workouts in one week. Maggie decided to take Sundays off, so her work-out goes like this: Monday – upper body, Tuesday – lower body, Wednesday – core, Thursday – upper body, Friday – lower body, Saturday – core. More variety, less repetition, and a more enjoyable program!

Thirdly, she was doing her exercises with heavy weights…WRONG! When you use a heavy weight, you are often asking for trouble! Heavy weights mean your form must be PERFECT, otherwise other muscles will start to compensate when you start to get fatigued.

Compensation means stress to the muscles you aren’t even supposed to be working, and you will often end up with neck or back pain. So, the rule of thumb is start with a RIDICULOUSLY light weight! As you progress through the weeks, and you start to get stronger, your form will improve, and you will be able to increase the weight. It’s much better to start too light than too heavy! I also started Maggie on some Physioball exercise, which just uses body weight as resistance, and adds a little fun to the program!

Boredom is a big problem when you’re trying to stick with a program, so it’s best to change up the exercises regularly. I am going to see Maggie once a month, to change her exercises and help keep her on track. I will keep you up to date on her performance and, maybe, she’ll even let me submit a few photos to the paper!

Best of luck to Maggie, and I am happy to support her on her fund-raising quest for such a great cause!

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