Yoga poses are intended to engage the mind as well as the body. Yoga practitioners even believe certain poses can retrain your muscles to relax in situations where they might have become tense.
Quick Fix Yoga Stretches
The Child’s Pose
Sit with your legs under you, buttocks resting on your heels, knees and feet together. Fold your self over your lower body and place your forehead against the floor. Rest your hands on the floor by your feet with your palms up. Breathing gently through your nose, relax into this position feeling the release in your hips. Hold for 15 seconds.
The child’s post is one of the quick fix yoga stretches that can really ease some tension. Be aware of your breath, breath slowly in through the nose, exhale through the mouth. (Hum if you like). This stretches out the shoulder blades, back, buttock area and allows the neck to relax.
The Resting Pose
Lie face up with your legs at least hip-width apart, and place your arms out to your sides at a 45-degree angle from your body. Feel your abdomen rise and fall with each breath as your focus on releasing tension each time you exhale. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat several times – as long as you want.
Result. The next time you have a stressful day, release the pressure with a quick fix yoga stretches that are guaranteed to calm you in both mind and body when performed properly (don’t rush through them).
Yoga: 5,000 Years Old
Yoga is a 5,000-year-old discipline that originated in India. In yoga, you hold postures (asanas), or move from one to another either while standing or on the floor. You usually end the workout with a relaxation or meditation exercise. Quick fix yoga stretches can be great when you only have five or ten minutes to attempt to relax yourself. Just find a quiet, private spot and do your best. You’ll get better with practice!
Yoga works the entire body and is great for strengthening and stretching. It improves posture, balance and range of motion while reducing carpal tunnel pain and can reduce risk of heart disease.
There are many types of yoga, ranging from almost entirely meditative to the very physically challenging; look for a beginning class or tape if you are new at yoga.
What Are the Types of Yoga?
Bikram. Practice yoga in 105 degree heat and 40 percent humidity. Bikram yoga has 26 poses total and a lot of alignment work. Good fit for beginners – if you can stand the heat!
Hatha. Slow and gentle movements – also great for beginner’s or when winding down at night.
Vinyasa. This one will definitely have you moving. You flow from pose to pose. Vinyasa is the most popular style of yoga in America.
Kundalini. Works the “core” area, the area that surrounds the lower spine the most – classes are known to be very intense.
Ashtanga Yoga. Also known as Power Yoga, this form is very physically challenging. Best suited for ex-athletes or someone looking to really push themselves.
Iyengar. This form of yoga uses lots of props such as blocks, harnesses, straps and cushions. Great for physical therapy.
Anusara Yoga. Anusara is epitomized by “the celebration of the heart. Expect many “heart-opening” poses like back bends and more talking by the instructor in class.
Restorative. Restorative yoga is focused on relaxation.
Bicycle riding can be a great pastime or a fantastic way to get in some exercise while also getting some fresh air and sunshine. But there are some bicycle riding safety issues to be aware of and also some basic care you can give to your bike to keep it riding smoothly and safely.
The Ups and Down’s of Biking
Hills add challenge and interest to any bike ride. Follow these tips for handling hills with confidence, and get the most out of this great, low-impact activity.
Going up. Before you approach a hill, slow your breathing down to a comfortable rate. Shift down into the next gear to make pedaling easier. Relax your body, keep your back straight and your hands loosely gripped on the bars.
Coming down. You should always stay in control of your bike. Sit back on the seat for stability and keep your feet parallel to each other. Slowly pump both your front and rear brakes to slow down without skidding. Ease back into a comfortable pace and enjoy the scenery.
Bicycle Riding Safety Tips
Keep a whistle on a chain around your neck and use it instead of a horn. It’s louder and shriller.
Having trouble climbing hills? Maybe you’re hunching over the handlebars. This constricts your breathing. Sit up tall instead.
On wet roads brake lightly now and then to whisk water off your brakes – especially after you’ve gone through a puddle and before you start down a hill.
If you skid, don’t try to move your wheel. Keep your wheel in whatever direction you are going. Similarly, on a loose surface, let the bike drift the way it wants.
In the country, sharp curves often have loose gravel and holes. Brake to reduce speed before you get to a curve, not while you are on the loose surface. Keep as far to the right as possible to avoid cars that may move into your lane as they round the corner.
Use a winter hard hat liner, found in hardware stores, as a helmet liner in cold weather. For further warmth, push a folded section of newspaper up under your shirt to help block cold winds.
Kerosene is the best cleaner for a greasy bicycle chain. To keep the chain from squeaking, clean it every 2 months and lubricate it with a lightweight bicycle oil or a spray lubricant designed for the purpose.
If your chain breaks and you can’t fix it right away, lower the seat and push along with your feet.
Home Made Bicycle Lock
You can make a lock from six feet of vinyl-covered steel cable, two U-bolts, and a padlock.
At each end of the cable, make a loop and secure it with a U-bolt. Strip or epoxy the threads so that the nut can’t be removed. Run the cable through the frame and wheels and around the bike rack or a sturdy post. Padlock the loops together.
If you must leave your bike unlocked, remove the handlebars or front wheel and take it with you.
Repair a Bicycle Tire
You can repair a tire in no time flat with two kitchen spoons, some fine sandpaper, contact cement, talcum powder and a thin piece of rubber or soft plastic.
For patches, cut small squares of rubber from an old tire tube or swimming cap. Coat one side with contact cement and let it dry.
Remove the wheel and push in the tire with your thumbs just enough to angle the spoons, 5 to 7 inches apart, under its edge. Work them around, pulling the edge of the tire over the rim.
Take the tube out of the tire and look for the puncture. Check inside the tire for any sharp stones or debris. Put your ear to the tube. Can you hear the air escape? If you can’t find the leak, inflate the tube and submerge it in water. Bubbles will locate the hole.
Dry the tube and rough up the area around the hole with sandpaper. Coat it with contact cement and apply the patch, sticky side down. Sprinkle talcum powder over the patched area so that the tube won’t stick to the tire wall.
If you inflate the tube a little, it will easier to put back in the tire. Begin remounting the tire by first inserting the air valve into the rim, then work the tire back onto the rim with your thumbs. If this proves difficult, use the spoons – but with care. The could puncture your newly repaired tube.
When the tire is back on the rim, inflate it and replace the wheel.
Spring is coming – get your bike ready for some summertime exercise.
When it comes to keeping energized, we really are what we eat. Making sure we consume balanced meals and snacks throughout the day is part of the solution to helping us feel our best. Different food groups provide different nutrients, which are broken down and used at different rates. This is why we need a combination of foods to keep us energized throughout the day. Since carbohydrates, protein and fat move through the stomach at different rates, eating meals and snacks that provide a combination of these nutrients helps us get a steady supply of energy.
Carbohydrates: Found in grains, fruits and vegetables, they provide a quick energy supply, but typically leave the stomach within an hour.
Protein: This nutrient, found in meat and milk products, usually takes about two hours to digest.
Fats: These tend to stay in the stomach the longest — about three to five hours.
To get a combination of carbohydrates, protein and fat each time you eat, try to eat meals that include foods from at least three food groups and snacks that include foods from at least two.
Lift Your Spirits
If you’re struggling to get to the gym, consider this: Workouts are a good way to beat the blues.
In a study of adults with mild to moderate depression, researchers noted that burning a certain number of calories each week through aerobic exercise resulted in significantly lower depression scores over time. The workouts in the study were equivalent to a 150-pound person burning about 1,200 calories per week.
In summary, eat a healthful variety of foods from all the food groups, and go burn some calories!
Drug abuse problem is one of the major problems facing many young people today. National surveys indicate that persons in the age group of 18 to 25 are most likely to use illegal drugs.
Why do young people, or why does anyone, young or old, use drugs? Studies reveal that responses such as the following are common.
“They make me feel good.”
“My friends all do it.”
“I’m more relaxed and friendly when I’m high.”
“I was curious.”
Unfortunately, the drug user’s life sooner or later becomes disrupted. Drugs can cause a wide variety of physiological and psychological problems. Drug abuse can interfere with school performance and personal relationships. It can cause lost jobs and cut short promising careers. It can ruin lives.
Many drug abusers are not aware they have a problem. They rationalize that they can stop anytime. Unfortunately, the research shows this is not true in many of the situations.
When to Get Help For a Drug Problem
Do you take drugs or drink to get ready for social situations?
Do you take drugs or drink to avoid facing personal problems?
Do you hide your drinking or drug use from others?
Do you take drugs and drink when you are alone?
Do you get annoyed at others who suggest you drink or take drugs too much?
If you answer yes to many of the questions in the box above, you may have an alcohol or drug problem and should talk to an alcohol and drug counselor at your college health center.
Living a life of robust energy and fitness is a quality of life on the opposite end of the spectrum from a life of using drugs. Your quality of life does not depend on doing right or wrong or whether you are good or bad. Your quality of life is determined by your choice to live at your potential and to live each day to the fullest.
Exercise can be your drug – your recreational drug! Exercise can help you to handle personal demands, achieve career goals and maintain good health and wellness. Remember that wellness refers to engaging in behaviors that enhance the quality of your life. Regular exercise is the key to maximizing your potential.
Drug use has the potential to mess up your health and the quality of your life. Drugs used for treatment, cure, prevention, or pain relief are referred to as medicines. Such medicines have kept people alive and helped in maintaining health. When a person uses drugs for reasons other than medical treatment, this behavior is called recreational drug use. Drugs are used recreationally to lessen social tensions, to seek sensations of pleasure, to enhance physical performance, to rebel against the pressures of society, to gain peer acceptance, or for a combination of these reasons.
Drugs are classified according to the physiological affect they have on your body as follows.
Stimulants. Speed up your nervous system, increase alertness and excitability.
Depressants. Slow down your nervous system, Help you to relax (known as tranquilizers or sedatives).
Psychoactive drugs.Â Alter moods, feelings, perceptions.
Narcotics. Powerful pain killers that cause pleasurable feelings.
Inhalants. Volatile non-drugs producing drug like effects when inhaled, substances such as glue and gasoline fall into this category.
Designer drugs. Illegal manufactured drugs that tend to mimic controlled substances. Generally more powerful and dangerous than the drugs they mimic.
Commonly Abused Drugs
Caffeine and alcohol are classified as drugs. All are legal and commonly used today in our society.Â TheyÂ have the potential to be harmful if abused. Anabolic steroids, most often used by athletes, have also become a concern. The so-called recreational drugs, such as crack and marijuana, are another form of drug that can cause serious health problems.
Caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant. Millions of people drink or ingest caffeine daily. It is found in cola drinks, chocolate, and of course, coffee. Restricting consumption to a couple of cups of coffee or cola a day allows a person to get the benefits without hurting his or her health.
Alcohol. Alcohol, although socially acceptable, has probably caused more social, emotional, and physical damage to users andÂ their families than any other drug. People drink to celebrate, to relax, to ease social situations, to feel good, and for a multitude of other reasons.
Because alcohol is accepted inÂ society as legal and appropriate, it is important to use it responsibly. This means drinking slowly (not more than one drink per hour), eating when drinking and, most important – not mixing drinking and driving.
Some people have a low tolerance for alcohol or may lose control over t heir alcohol consumption. These situations can lead to alcoholism. To date, there is no way of determining in advance who will have trouble with alcohol. A tendency toward alcoholism can be inherited, thus the drinking of alcohol can be very risk y for some people. However, the question remains, is the “inherited” from learned behavior or an actual physical connection?
Steroids. Anabolic steroids are powerful drugs that can change the way the body works. They can increaseÂ body weight, muscle size and strength. They are looked upon as performance-enhancing agents. However, because of the serious health risks, physicians and sports organizations are against the use of steroids. Steroids are used medically to help the body heal. However, doses given for medical reasons must be carefully monitored by doctors.
Even though steroids appear to increase muscle bulk and strength, they can cause serious health problems. Side effects range from acne to cancer. Even heart attacks may show up years later after use. Bone growth can be hindered. In males, testicles shrink, with impotence and sterility resulting. Female uses end up with increased growth of facial and body hair. Over 70 harmful side effects have been identified.
Aside from physical problems, steroids can cause depression and violent behavior. Infections from steroid injections have led to infections such as hepatitis (a liver disease) and AIDS. Most important, many elite athletes who were known steroid users have died at a young age because of steroid use.
Despite these frightening facts, the use of anabolic steroids is increasing. And not just among athletes, but among fitness enthusiasts who want to experience strength gains and muscle definition beyond those seen with training and nutrition alone.
Some users report a feeling of euphoria. Many users don’t care about heart disease 20 years from now. They are only concerned with the present. Some physicians feel that steroids may be one of the most addictive drugs in America. Suffice it to say, the dangers from the use of this drug far outweigh its immediate benefits. Proper training will bulk up your muscles if this is your desire. It just might take a little longer.
The most widely used recreational drugs are cocaine and marijuana. Use of these drugs produces feelings of exhilaration, euphoria, and well being. The effect is rapid and the high lasts from5 to 20 minutes for marijuana to 2 to 4 hours for cocaine.
After the euphoric feeling subsides, a depressed feeling often follows. Complications from cocaine use can range from cardiac problems to nervous system problems that can even result in death.Â To say it simply, cocaine use can be devastating and it has no place inÂ a healthy living style.
Marijuana, or pot, is characterized by many people as a harmless drug because it creates a relaxed and dreamy high and seems to be less addicting than some other drugs. Nevertheless, a wide range of reactions to this drug has been documented. There appear to be some potential health problems related to its use.
The Choice is Yours
Drugs prescribed for medicine have a place in helping people to achieve better health. However, unwise use of drugs can severely mess up your health and reduce your quality of life. As you begin to realize how good it feels to be physically active and to be in good physical shape, it will be easier to refrain from destructive behaviors such as using drugs or alcohol. People who have achieved a high level of wellness do not use drugs. If they do drink alcohol, they do so in moderation and control.
The choice, of course, is yours. Exercise regularly, eat properly, get adequate rest, manage stress and refrain from drugs. You might be thinking that although these things are important they are not important during your high school or college years. You may feel that for now you want to enjoy being inactive, eat what you want and will have trouble when you want, sleep less, and enjoy the parties. After all, you only live one and are only young for a short time. But you are fooling yourself if you think that such living patterns now cannot have a negative effect on the quality of your life later on.
We know without a doubt there is no place for drug dependence in a health lifestyle. The best alternative to the instant gratification that recreational drugs offer is to adopt and maintain an active way of life. Being physically fit means having a body that can function at its optimal efficiency. This translates to robust health and the availability of excess energy to fully appreciate the joysÂ life.
Backaches are awful. If you have serious back pain, always see a doctor. However, if your back pain is from strain or bending more than usual – those everyday twinges and aches, perhaps some of the following tips can help you.
Biting Backaches: Prevention
Avoid any sudden strain. Exercise regularly to limber the back and strengthen its supporting abdominal muscles.
If you sit for long periods, make sure your back is property supported. Place a small roll in the arch of your lower spine (at belt height) to maintain its normal S-curve. Stuff the inside of a paper towel roll with rags and strengthen it with masking tape for a home made roll.
When lifting, never bend down from the waist. Lower and raise yourself at the knees. Keep your back straight and hold the object close to your body.
Balance items you carry evenly on both sides of your body and hold them close. Alternatively, use a back pack.
Sleep on your back if possible, with knees raised on a pillow. If you sleep on your side, a pillow between the knees is a big help.
For a firm bed, place a bed board between the mattress and the box spring. Cut a sheet of 3/4-inch plywood 1 inch smaller all around than your mattress and sand its edges for a home madeÂ bed board.
Limit activity or stray in bed for 48 hours.
Depending on which works better for you, apply either heat or a cold pack for 15 minutes at a time every couple of hours over a period of 2 days. Keep an athlete’s soft cold pack in the freezer or use a bag of frozen peas. Both will mold easily to your back.
Aspirin or ibuprofen will help combat both pain and inflammation. Acetaminophen only pain.
To minimize chronic minor back pain, tip your pelvis back, then forward, until you find the position of least pain. Maintain it.
Strengthening and stretching the muscles of your lower back will help prevent lower back strain. The following exercises progress from gentle to strenuous. Do only what is comfortable for you. Stop exercising the moment you feel pain. If you have had back problems, consult your doctor before starting.
Pelvic Tilt. Lie on your back with both of your knees bent. Keeping your spine against the floor, squeeze your buttock muscles as hard as you can. Pull your stomach muscles in, flatten the small of your back to the floor and hold for five seconds. Your pelvis will tilt slightly upward of its own accord. Don’t try to raise it. Repeat 10 times.
Cat Stretch. Kneel on your hands and knees. Then arch your upper back upward, contract your stomach muscles, and let your head drop. Hold for five seconds. Follow this by raisin your head and reversing the action until you return to the kneeling position. Avoid pushing your pelvis forward to create a sway back. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Hip Roll. Lie on your back, both arms out for support. Raise your knees toward your chest and then roll them gently from side to side, keeping your shoulders on the floor if you can. Roll 10 to 20 times.
Backward Leg Raises. Lie flat on your stomach, resting your head on folded arms. Keeping your pelvis on the floor, slowly raise one leg from the hip until your foot is 6 inches above the floor. Repeat 5 to 10 times with each leg.
Single Leg Raises. Lie on your back, knees bent, arms crossed under your head, and both elbows touching the floor. Straighten one leg. Slowly raise it as high as you can. Hold it 5 seconds, then lower it slowly to the floor. Repeat 5 to 10 times with each leg.
Diagonal Reach. Start on your hands and knees. Slowly reach your right arm out in front of you. At the same time, reach your left leg straight out behind you. Stretch and hold for 5 seconds. Return to your original position. Then stretch your left arm and right leg. Repeat 10 times.
Home Made Back Packs
To make a temporary back pack for carrying your lunch on as short hike, bringing home trail-side treasures, or transporting other light objects, just close the waist of a long-sleeved sweatshirt or jacket with pins or string. Knot the sleeve ends together to form a strap. Stuff your cargo inside, slip the strap over your shoulders and you’re on your way.
Days Gone By: Victorian Back Aches
Consider the Victorian corset. Made of heavy canvas, with vertical stays of whalebone or steel, it encased a woman in a rigid cage from hip to bust. Many little girls got their first one at age three or four. By adolescence they were wearing adult versions, tightly laced up the back to achieve something close to Scarlett O’Hara’s triumph of a 17 inch waist.
Ladies of the time were thought to be so delicate that their muscles couldn’t hold them upright without assistance. The corset made this myth a reality. By the time girls were ready for adult corsets, their back and abdominal muscles had atrophied so badly that many couldn’t sit or stand without one.
Although athletic skill and general motor skill are not necessary to be physically fit, some enjoy evaluating motor skills to test abilities. This article will address three motor skills and how to go about evaluating motor skills.
General motor skills generally refers to one’s level of ability in a wide range of physical activities. Speed, power, balance, agility, reaction time and coordination are the traits identified with motor skill performance.
In a successful performance, these skills blend into a single effective movement, such as stroking a tennis ball. The movement may be quite complex. For example, hitting a fore-hand in tennis involves three moving factors.
The body (feet).
Integration of motor abilities in a coordinated manner leads to graceful movement.
The skills involved in each sport are quite specific. Success in one activity does not necessarily mean equal success in another. It is impossible to measure all the specifics of complex physical activities.
An acceptable alternative has been to sample some of the specific traits involved in athletic performance to assess one’s general motor fitness. A person who scores well on a motor skill test usually has the potential for successful performance in a sport in which he or she receives instruction and practice. Tests of motor ability may reflect a person’s potential to perform well in specific sports.
The tests recommended here do not examine all the traits related to general athletic ability. However, the agility run, 20-yard dash, and vertical jump have emerged as excellent indicators of agility, speed and power.
Again, based on the time needed to perform these tests and ease of administering and scoring them, these tests are practical tools for getting a sense of your general athletic ability. At the end of this there is a chart with which you can rate your performance on these tests.
Evaluating Motor Skills with the Agility Run
Purpose: To measure the ability to move with quickness, speed and balance.
Procedure: Start by lying face down with your head behind the starting line and your arms flexed and hands placed just outside your shoulders. On the command “go” (the stop watch starts), jump to your feet and run as fast as you can to the end line, a distances of 30 feet.
Turn around as one foot touches or crosses the end line and then sprint back to the starting line. Then weave in and out around four chairs or boxes spaced 10 feet apart to the end line.
Turn and weave back through the chairs (in the opposite direction) to the starting line. You then sprint to the end line, touch or cross it with your foot, and turn and sprint past the finish line.
The time necessary to complete the run is recorded to the nearest tenth of a second. A wet towel may be provided so you can wipe your feet before the run. This allows better traction during the run.
Not touching the lines at each end.
Touching or accidentally touching the chair.
Not following the prescribed course.
Evaluating Motor Skills with the 20 Yard Dash
Purpose: To measure speed.
Procedure: Mark off 20 yards on the gym floor.
Have your partner stand at the finish line with a stop watch in raised hand.
As he or she drops the raised hand, the stop watch is started.
Start running as you see the hand begin to drop.
Sprint as fast as you can to the finish line.
The time it takes to complete the dash is recorded to the nearest tenth of a second.
Record the fastest of three trials.
Improper Procedure: Jumping the signal start.
Purpose: To measure the power and explosiveness of the body.
Procedure: Face the jumping board or wall and stand slightly in front of it with your feet flat on the floor and both arms fully extended over your head. Have a partner note the point where the extended tips of the middle fingers touch the board.
Now turn so that a side of your body is to the jump board. Without moving your feet (you are not allowed to step into the jump), take a deep squat and jump, touching the board as high as possible with the fingers nearest the board. After a brief rest, try a second jump.
Record the greatest distance obtained between your standing reach and your jumping reach, to the nearest half inch.
Not measuring a true standing reach.
Moving the feet in preparation to jump.
You may find that you are not satisfied with your performance on these motor skill tests. In general, after some exercise training, it is easier to improve on the basic exercise tests than on tests of athletic skill. However, with some specific motor skill exercises you can become faster, more agile, and more explosive.
Use your test results as a starting point. Keep in mind that having a high level of motor skill is not necessary for being physically fit. However, improving on some of these traits can help you better enjoy a variety of sports and recreational activities.
A useful procedure for assessing your cardiorespiratory fitness is the heart rate recovery test in the form of a step test. Stepping on and off a bench for a 3 to 5 minute time period at a selected cadence has long been used for rating a person’s physical capacity for hard work and evaluating the effects of training.
Although not considered the best predictor of cardiorespiratory fitness, the heart-rate during recovery from a standardized step test is a simple way to evaluate the heart’s response to exercise. The faster your heart rate recovers after the standardized exercise bout, the higher your fitness rating. The test is easy to administer on an individual basis or to a large group.
It takes little time, does not require special skills to perform, and requires a minimum of equipment. A locker room bench or bleachers, a watch, and a card for recording pulse counts. The testing can easily be done with the procedure described here.
Heart Rate Recovery Test Procedure
A locker room bench (generally 18 inches high) is recommended for both men and women. A roll-out bleacher seat (usually 16 inches high) can be used. If neither is available, a sturdy chair (17 inches high) can be used. Step-test ratings presented in the table below are based on stepping up on an 18-inch bench.
Work with a partner. When the tester gives the signal “Begin,” the watch is started and you start stepping onto the bench. First the left foot up, then the right foot up. Then left foot down, right foot down. This complete step represents four counts. Note that it is permissible to change the up foot during the test. Step to the following cadence: 120 counts per minute or 30 complete step executions per minute (0ne four-count step every 2 seconds – up, up, down, down). In a group situation, the instructor will keep the cadence.
Continue the exercise for 3 minutes. Keep the tempo and be sure to straighten your knees as you step on the bench. After stepping for 3 minutes, sit on a chair or straddle the bench facing your partner.
One minute after the exercise period stops, the tester counts your pulse beats for 30 seconds. He or she should record the pulse for the following periods during recovery.
1 to 1-1/2 minute
2 to 2-1/2 minutes
3 to 3-1/2 minutes
In a group situation, the instructor will call out “Begin” and “Stop” for each 30 second period.
To take your pulse, the tester presses lightly with the index and middle fingers on the inside of the wrist, thumb side.
For added accuracy the performer also can check his or her pulse at the carotid artery site, in the region just below the jawbone and just behind the Adam’s apple. This measurement provides a double check for accuracy, and the rate should not differ more than two beats from the tester’s count during a 30-second period.
A stethoscope, if available, provides the most accurate measurement.
Not keeping the cadence of 30 step executions per minute.
Failure to straighten the knees to full extension on the up steps.
Not counting the pulse accurately.
The sum of the three 30 second pulse measurements is your recovery index.
Download the Heart Rate Recovery Test Instructions in PDF
Evaluating flexibility is important. Flexibility is the ability to use a muscle throughout its maximum range of motion. The loss of the ability to bend, twist, and stretch is often a result of muscle disuse. Disuse can come from long periods of sitting or standing.
Sedentary living habits can lead to shortened muscles and tendons. This can cause lower back pain and imbalance in the strength of opposing muscles. The shortening of the hamstrings (back of the thighs) is a very common disorder. Long periods of sitting or standing lead to poor muscle and tendon adjustments and a loss of flexibility in these muscles. This loss of flexibility limits your ability in the following activity.
Sitting down or standing up gracefully.
Performing efficiently in recreational pursuits.
Is Extreme Flexibility Best?
Extreme flexibility has no advantage. If your joints are too loose or flexible, you may become more susceptible to injuries of the joints.Â Many people are able to stretch one or two inches (plus or minus) from the man. In other words, too much flexibility may increase the chance of injury.
Although no single test will provide adequate information about the flexibility of all the major joints of the body, the following two tests provide a reasonable indication of your ability to stretch.
Trunk Flexion for Evaluating Flexibility
Purpose: To measure the amount of trunk flexion and the ability to stretch the back muscles and back thigh muscles (hamstrings).
Procedure: Sit with your legs fully extended and the bottom of your feet flat against aboard projecting from the wall. Now extend (stretch) your arms and hands forward as far as possible. Hold for a count of three while your partner uses a ruler to measure the distance (in inches) between the board and your fingertips. Distances before the edge (not able to reach your toes) are expressed asÂ negative scores; those beyond the edge are expressed as positive scores.
Not holding the flexed position for a count of three.
Bending at the knees.
Trunk Extension for Evaluating Flexibility
Purpose: To measure the range of motion (flexibility) of the back.
Procedure: Lie in a prone position (face down) on the floor. Have a partner kneel and straddle your legs to hold your buttocks and legs down. With your hands grasped behind your neck, raise your upper trunk (chest and head) off the floor and hold for a count of three. Another partner measures the distance from your chin to the floor.
Not holding the measuring device in a perpendicular position while measuring.
Raisin the hips off the floor.
Not holding the extended position for a count of three.
Check Your Results
Norms for trunk flexion (inches from fingertips to bottom of feet).
Normal range. Women: -4 to +8. Men: -6 to +6.
Average (mean. Women: +2. Men: +1.
Desired range. Women: +2 to +4. Men: +1 to +3.
Norms for trunk extension (inches from chin to floor).
An active lifestyle is more than simply visiting the gym for an hour or jumping around in the living room to an aerobics tape. Be creative and find ways to incorporate physical activity into almost everything you do.
Here are some suggestions to get you started and help you boost your activity level. Believe me, if you make a conscious effort to integrate more activity into your daily life, it will eventually become second nature. Give some of these suggestions a try! You may have heard some of these before, but they bear repeating as a reminder.
Tips to Boost Your Activity
Walk as much as possible by parking the car a few blocks away from where you’re headed or walk to an appointment from your office instead of driving. Whenever you’re walking try to focus on long strides and a quicker than normal pace. This gets the heart rate going a bit faster than just meandering along.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk up the stairs as quickly as you can. For a little variation, try slowing down and taking two stairs at a time to further strengthen your legs.
During breaks at work, walk the stairs, walk around the building or walk down the halls. Find any type of activity that keeps you moving during your break (you can sit at your desk and relax after the break!)
Whenever you’re walking somewhere, take the long way around. Use this technique to get anywhere you’re going… from shopping at the mall to getting a drink at the water cooler.
Don’t use drive-thru windows. Park and get out of your car to do your banking, grab a bite to eat, or pick up the dry cleaning. You’ll be amazed at how many muscles getting in and out of a car use!
At the supermarket, whenever you have a light load, carry your own groceries out to the car without the shopping cart. And remember to park the car in a spot furthest from the store entrance!
Whenever possible, stand instead of sitting. Even standing still will burn more calories than sitting!
Loose the remote. When was the last time you actually got up from your seat, engaged all your leg muscles, and walked over to change the channel on the TV? New TVs have no channel changer? Just get up during commercials and look out a window or something!
Unless it’s urgent, always opt for the bathroom that’s furthest from you. Better yet, use an upstairs bathroom, if there is one near you. Do the same for answering the telephone. It is estimated that Americans save walking approximately 70 miles per year with the advent of extension phones! To make matters worse, we now carry mobile phones on our person every where we go.
Seventeen-thousand ACE-certified Fitness Professionals were asked to name the one exercise they couldn’t do without. The overwhelming winner was the multi-purpose squat, which strengthens all of the major muscles of the lower body. These include the gluteals, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves.
The Top Seven Choices
Following are the rest of the top choices, which can be used together to create a challenging and effective fitness program.
Not to be forgotten, stepping may be in the top ten exercise choices. You may have known that step aerobics can burn calories and is a good exercise for the heart, but did you know that research specifically has found step aerobics can step up your good cholesterol levels?
A study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found step aerobic exercise significantly raised the HDL- cholesterol levels of the study participants. This small, eight-week study followed 45 sedentary college students. Fifteen participated in step aerobic exercise and another 15 did traditional aerobic dance. Each 45-minute session was done for three days a week. The remaining 15 in the study continued to be sedentary.
At the study’s conclusion, the investigators from Baskent University in Ankara found that both groups that were active showed a significant reduction in their overall cholesterol levels compared to the sedentary group. However, only those participating in step aerobics showed a substantial increase in their HDL cholesterol levels.
Although researchers concluded that step aerobics is effective in modifying cholesterol, they did not speculate on reasons why that was the case.