Our bodies host many incredible design features, such as the natural ability to overcompensate for stress the body endures, consistently, over time. Think of a person in a wheelchair, for example. As they push the rubber wheels forward, day after day, their hands develop callouses to protect the points of contact. The skin overcompensates for the continual pressure placed on it.
In the same way, our muscles overcompensate when we practice resistance training exercises on a regular basis. The exercise stresses muscles tissue then, with hydration, nutrition and rest, the muscle will respond by growing larger and stronger over time. Similarly, our heart muscle grows stronger when we practice regular cardiovascular exercise. Begin building a stronger heart with an exercise as simple as walking. Aim to walk 5-6 days per week for 20-40 minutes each time. As the walks get easier, increase the intensity by incorporating incline and a more vigorous pace. Your heart, and entire cardiovascular system, will eventually become stronger and more efficient.
Building a routine of regular movement can energize you in more than one way. When we exercise, the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine are released. These hormones are energy boosters. That’s why you will likely feel energized and refreshed after a brisk walk. Additionally, exercise is a mental stress reliever. Even in small amounts, daily movement can cause you to experience deeper sleep. The better you sleep, the more alert you’ll be in your waking hours. It’s a win-win!
Another principal of physical training is individual differences. Each of us is created uniquely, therefore, the cookie cutter approach to exercise doesn’t work well. For most people, however, working out early in the day is best because of the boost of energy and mental clarity the workout provides. If your only opportunity is later in the day, a warm shower can relax tired muscles. Incorporate the shower, deep breathing, reading and journaling as part of your bedtime routine to help prepare you for sleep.
For Controllers working long shifts on a rotating basis, it makes sense to exercise in small, regular bits throughout the shift. This may be the best way to stay alert and build a stronger body. We recommend using the Alertness Exercises as a guide to move all major muscle groups of the body. These eight movements can be done without leaving your console. They include:
- Leg extension
- Assisted squat
- Shoulder blade squeeze
- Chest stretch
- Shoulder circles
- Chest press
- Shoulder stretch
- Side stretch
If you need an Alertness Exercise card for your console, please email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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