How To Keep A Fit Body & Mind On The Road
With festival season just around the corner, music-makers all over Canada are gearing up for tons of work! If this is you, it’ll be important to incorporate purposeful movement so you optimize your performance both on and off stage. I’ve got three simple exercises - something for everyone - to make sure those running shoes see the light of day and that you’re getting the most out of your tour this summer.
When we’re talking aerobic exercise, we’re talking about running, bootcamps, fitness classes and anything that gets that cardio system up and running for longer than a couple minutes at a time. Now, cardio gets this completely inaccurate reputation as the be-all-end-all for weight loss. But hold your horses. The primary purpose of cardiovascular aerobic training is to optimize your heart and lungs efficiently. But wait, there’s more…!
In her book, Healthy Brain Happy Life: A Personal Program To Activate Your Brain & Do Everything Better, Dr. Wendy Suzuki revealed that aerobic exercise contributes to creation and maintenance of brain cells in the hippocampus (part of that big, ol’ brain of yours that’s responsible for learning and memory and stuff). To learn more about this connection please check out her website here. She’s also got a great interview with Shawn Stevenson on The Model Health Show Podcast here if you’re into the auditory learning thing.
Aerobic Skipping Workout
3-5 sets x 2 minutes of skipping
Your aerobic system kicks in full force near the two minute mark, so to maximize your effort you’re going to jump rope for two minutes on and one minute off. Aim for 3-5 sets to start and then gradually work your way up to 10 sets. This one is great for the road, because you can pop out and get a jump in while your bassist fills the tank!
If you want something a bit more complex with the rope, check out my buds the Jump Rope Dudes YouTube channel here!
Resistance training can be summed up as exercise where you’re resisting a weight or load, hence the name. Yes, this can include weights at a gym, resistance bands and a host of trendy equipment, but just simple bodyweight does the trick for most of us. Typically the goal here is to increase strength or add lean tissue through the breakdown and re-build of muscle fibre. It’s also the only way to ensure proper weight management.
In her studies, Dr. Suzuki examines how resistance training promotes cognitive and functional brain plasticity. That’s more science mumbo-jumbo for the brain’s ability to adapt, grow, and create new pathways to hold more information. Super cool, right?! However, the studies show that all of that is contingent on a minimum of 2 sessions of resistance training per week. Talk about accountability! But wait, you don’t have to spend all day in the gym…
Another study released in 2014 from the Georgia Institute of Technology showed us that strength training as little as 20 minutes per session can improve long term memory in healthy young adults. Don’t take it from me though. A study group strength trained legs and outperformed the control group that didn’t on a memory recall 24 hours later. Here’s a link to that study.
So what’s a quick way to get a really good burn in a short amount of time? Squats.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with squats - here you go:
The “Bring Sally Up” Workout
This my personal favourite and it comes from the CrossFit world. It can be done anywhere you have about 2 square feet, headphones and a willingness to feel the burn. It’s called “Bring Sally Up”, and will likely make you have a strong dislike for Moby afterwards.
Here’s how it works. Pull up “Flower” by Moby on your choice streaming platform.
When the hook “Bring Sally Up, Bring Sally Down” plays through, you either stand up, or sit down in the squat as according to the directions in the song. Do that for the entirety of the song. You’re welcome. Here is a quick video of the workout in action if you’d like to see what the fuss is all about.
When Cardio and Resistance Training Isn’t Good For You
Both anaerobic resistance training and aerobic cardiovascular training causes a ton of physical stress on the body. Most of us experience enough stress in other areas of life, that adding more from physical exercise is counter-intuitive. Good news… there’s a great alternative movement solution that can help relieve stress and keep your flow - this fun thing that’s been making quite the splash recently called down regulatory exercise. Ommmm….🧘♂️
Down Regulatory Exercise
In terms of keeping cool, calm and collected a lot of attention has been given to alternative disciplines of exercise like yoga. It’s exercise like this that builds up tissues and encourages vitality rather than breaking down muscle fibre. But if yoga’s not your thing (yet), walking and stretching are other forms of low intensity movement that play a significant role in how we handle stress. It’s no coincidence that someone who’s able to touch their toes is also more likely to be flexible in their creative thoughts and ideas.
I once heard that when the “body moves, thebrain grooves” and man oh man, is that ever true! A study conducted out of Stanford in 2007 found that daily walking significantly improved cognitive function. Specifically, the study showed that walking increased creative inspiration by 60% vs. sitting. Participants only did this for 5-16 minutes and even with such a small time investment the study showed to enhance divergent thinking, which for us music-makers and creative types is an invaluable competitive advantage.
Check out the flow I take my athletes through or you can find a podcast and go for a walk, have a stretch or check out the Healthline.com Top Yoga apps for 2019 here. Keep it slow, keep it relaxed and remember to breathe.
There are many effective ways to exercise. It’s important to takeaway two things:
- the understanding that not all exercise is equal, and
- the understanding that your body craves variation. It’s great to switch things up and to be in tune with yourself so you’re not adding to the overall stress load you may undergo this festival season.
Keep in mind this is all coming from a totally generalized standpoint and each person will have individual needs based on their goals, the time they can make, the resources they can invest and lifestyle demands they currently experience.
If you’re looking for a bit more help navigating that busy lifestyle, check out this guide I made to help incorporate exercise and nutrition into your schedule on your own accord. You can download it here and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear how it works for you!
Until next time, stay sweet!
About the Author
With over 12 years of professional writing, recording and touring experience, Mike Schwartz has battled the hardships of the working musician’s lifestyle. During that time, Mike doubled as a certified health and wellness professional, specializing in corrective exercise, and nutrition for performance and stress resiliency. His dedication to the craft has helped him establish a reputation as the Trusted Authority of Musician Wellness. He’s the author of The Musician’s Guide To Surviving The Rock Star Lifestyle and Start With U: 21 Day Self-Love Challenge. His skills as a Lifestyle Tech have helped coach thousands of individuals out of pain, stress and low energy into a sustainable, high-quality way of life.
You can connect with Mike here: https://www.therockdr.com/.