Physiology of Callanetics Exercises
- by Patty Brittingham, R.N., M.A.
The CALLANETICS program is a new and unique method of anaerobic-type exercise that is being recognized as one of the most thorough muscle toning routines on the fitness scene today. It is best described as a combination of isotonic and mild isometric work that uses a very small range of motion of about one inch "pressing" type movements and very controlled "pulsing" type contractions of muscles. These characteristics make the exercises neither purely isotonic nor isometric.
The program is extremely safe and designed so that anyone can easily pace the work-out as slowly or as intensely as desired, even within a structured class. The limited range of motion makes it an easy and acceptable exercise for a broad range of populations including sedentary, athletic, male, female, young, elderly and obese.
CALLANETICS exercises became well known because of their success in rapidly reshaping women's bodies. However, they are becoming almost as well known for their success in helping people with back problems, resulting from scoliosis, lordosis, occupational or recreational injury, weak abdominal muscles, and other causes. The program is appropriate and almost invariably beneficial to patients with back problems.
The program is non-impact, and easy on the joints, tendons and ligaments, making it a comfortable exercise for inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and lupus. There is no strain on the cardiovascular system and there is never a sustained isometric contraction that would be contraindicated for a hypertensive person.
CALLANETICS exercises, though easy to do, create a deep muscular contraction that trains the muscles to become stronger and more toned with time. This training effect increases muscle endurance and raises the blood lactic acid threshold. The American College of Sports Medicine is now recommending a minimum of 2 days per week of anaerobic muscle conditioning as a part of a well-rounded fitness routine. The low-intensity of the CALLANETICS program makes it acceptable to do every day.
It is well known that a lifestyle that includes exercise creates an enhanced feeling of well being and an increased self-esteem that improves the overall quality of life. Exercise in any form is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. This type of exercise strengthens the joints, cartilage, tendons and ligaments.
It is also well documented that all types of exercise aid in the prevention of osteoporosis, and in providing relief from stress.
For some people who find most methods of exercise too uncomfortable, too stressful, or just unmotivating, the CALLANETICS program may be the only form of exercise they will comply to on a long-term basis. Indeed, in some cases, the CALLANETICS program may be the only exercise they are capable of doing. However, the program is also capable of challenging the most athletic and fit, and enhancing their muscle strength, toning, and flexibility.
In summary, the CALLANETICS program is an appropriate system of exercise for a broad segment of the population.