Cross-Training is a term used when an individual is using one or more sports/activities or methods to enhance his/her overall fitness. By adding sports/activities such as swimming, cross-country skiing, aerobics or weight training to your running/walking schedule, you'll be building general strength that can't help but improve your overall fitness.
Cross-training will enhance the quality of your training and reduce your risk of injury. It has been shown to enhance general body as well as individual muscle strength and assists in improving endurance levels. Running can be hard on your body, especially if you were born with some biomechanical imbalances (high arches, for instance, or a misaligned kneecap), or if you have even been injured. Participating in other aerobic activities serves many of the same goals as running - producing good cardiovascular fitness in addition to increased strength and endurance and weight control - but shifts the stress around, so it isn't all borne by the same parts of the body. With some sports, notably cycling, swimming, in-line skating and cross-country skiing - the musculoskeletal stress is quite low. Thus by cross-training, you'll get stronger, you'll get fitter and you'll also give your ankles, knees and hips a break from the pounding action of running.
Regular cross-training also provides you with a break from the usual. By participating in new and different activities you are adding variety to your training schedule. This ultimately improves your motivation to stay actively involved in your training program. As some of may or may not already know, this is important to each and every one of us at this stage in following the In Training program.
CROSS TRAINING OPTIONS:
Swimming: Provides a great non-impact workout. Will help develop aerobic fitness, upper body strength, muscular endurance, and breath control. Swimming isn't expensive and can be done year-round, both indoors and out. It is important to keep in mind that swimming is not ideal for weight loss: water supports so much of the body that swimming doesn't burn as many calories per minute as running does.
Cycling: Enhances muscle balance between the quadriceps and hamstrings with less 'pounding' than running. Developing balanced strength in "opposing" muscle combinations such as the quadriceps and hamstrings is an important way to avoid injury.
Cross-country Skiing: Works the large muscles of the arms, torso and back as well as the legs. Cross-country skiing is a huge aerobic challenge, and it is readily available in BC during the winter months.
Exercise to Music: Provides a fun structured workout with a warm-up, cardio-training, and cool-down stretching all in a group atmosphere. If you decide this activity is for you, consider three factors to avoid injury. First, choose a low-impact class (which are the majority of classes these days). Second, make sure you won't be exercising on concrete. Third, check that the class is led by a qualified instructor.
Weight Training: Can be designed to provide a workout for the entire body, yet each workout session focuses more on developing muscular strength in specific muscle groups.
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