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Time Constrained Health and Fitness
By: Craig Martin (profile)
The good news is that from as little as 3 hours per week it is possible to gain, maintain and increase wellbeing and fitness.

Modern living appears to allow less and less time to take care of ourselves. Deadlines, financial constraints and family responsibilities appear to impinge on our ‘free time’. Most of us spend the majority of the day moving only in a limited confined area (see pic). This is clearly not the way to treat our bodies. We are designed to crawl, reach, lift, twist, jump, dance and swing! Function may become impaired if we do not use the body correctly and fully.  Even top level sportspeople, including Golf Tour Pros, can have problems if they do not use their full range of movement regularly.

The place where the impact of this ‘dysfunctional’ lifestyle can be readily seen is at the golf course or driving range. Under-used bodies thrust into action, compensation occurring from head to feet. It is quite painful to watch stuck and misaligned shoulders, backs and hips attempt the motion required.

The good news is that from as little as 3 hours per week it is possible to gain, maintain and increase wellbeing and fitness. This could include the following:

  1. 1.       Mixed Intensive Fitness Sessions (4 x 20 minutes per week)
  2. 2.       Six ‘Energy Stretches’ for increased energy flow and flexibility (5 x 12 minutes per week)
  3. 3.       Relaxing Breath Training (3 x 1 min daily)

Mixed Intensive Fitness Sessions

If you do not have time for long, slower workouts, sprint or intensive sessions are a great solution. There is now a great deal of evidence that suggests that short, high intensity sessions improve aerobic capacity and endurance in around half the time of traditional endurance exercise. To perform short high intensity sessions properly, you need to get very close to your maximum heart rate by the final interval.  Ideally you should do 8 x 30 second intervals, with a short recovery, preceded by a three-minute warm up and ending with a two minute cool down. So the total time per full session is around 20 minutes, with the actual high intensity portion lasting a total of only four minutes!

Based on my clinical experience and many years of experience with clients, this type of exercise leads to:

  • Body fat loss
  • Improved muscle tone
  • Higher energy levels
  • Faster achievement of intended fitness goals
  • Improved speed and performance

The type of session should be ideally mixed, challenging the whole body.  You Tube has many excellent examples and the possibilities are almost endless. Here is a list of possible sessions:

  • Intensive gym sessions - Spinning, bike, stepper, treadmill, rowing machine etc.
  • Kettlebell + squat thrusts
  • Fast on the spot running
  • High intensity fast skipping
  • Intense running - running up a flight of steps or a inclined hill


The Six ‘Energy Stretches’ for increased energy flow and flexibility

There are many possible ways to create space in the body, reduce constriction and gain good flexibility.  Yoga, Pilates, Body Rolling to Tai Chi are great examples, however the following routine is excellent when you have limited time and want to have a complete, energising stretching session.

The exercises should be done in the order shown below, with the stretching phase only on the out breath, gradually stretching and releasing with the cycles of the breath. It is not about how far, but simply to settle into the positions and almost imagine the final position you would like to achieve, no fighting with the body. These stretches should be done at least 5 times per week, each exercise ideally done for a minimum of 2 minutes. The pictures below show the starting and stretching positions.

Exercise 1 - Link the thumbs behind the back like a chain; reverse the direction of the linked thumbs on the second half of the desired number of repetitions.

Exercise 2 - Keep a good posture, while looking forwards and keep the thighs in alignment.

Exercise 3 - The soles of the feet are together, cup the toes with your hands and look forwards.

Exercise 4 - Roll the spine over as you go down, the legs can be slightly bent.

Exercise 5 - Cross the ankles and arms as shown, this time take the head down to touch the toes as you push the legs open.


Exercise 6 - Keep the body and legs in line; slide the hand down the leg and look upwards to the arm.

Relaxing Breath Training (3 x 1 min daily)

This breathing exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Some people need to produce more adrenaline to play better golf but most players need to reduce the effects of producing more cortisol in the system. Of course the best way is to be emotionally balanced and resilient in daily life, producing more DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), rather than trying to find a quick way to interrupt the flow of more harmful chemicals.

Begin by gently pressing the tip of your tongue against the hard, flattish pad just behind the upper teeth. Keep the tongue here for the whole duration of the exercise.

Breathe in quietly through the nose for a count of 4, then hold for a count of 7, then release the breath, more audibly, for a count of 8, through the mouth. Ten cycles, keeping to the same ratio of 4:7:8 for each full cycle are enough at any one time. Repeat the exercise 3 times per day as a general practice, or when stressed, or when required on the golf course. This technique can be used between shots, particularly when nervous, but do not over use as you may become light headed.

The time you spend on each phase is not so important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is the most important thing. With practice you can slow it down, naturally inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.

By combining all of the above practices you can be sure that you are covering most of your fitness, movement and breathing requirements in a manageable space of time.


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