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Showing posts with label Flexibility. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Flexibility. Show all posts

5 Exercises That Improve Your Flexibility

Guest Post by Melissa.

Is it really possible and safe to get flexible fast? A big YES! But, how do you start? Here are five of the best exercises you should try to improve your flexibility!

As we age, our bones become weaker and prone to breakage. By properly managing durability and bone strength by means of exercise and diet, we can keep our bones stronger for a longer period of time and protect them against potential diseases like osteoporosis.

One way of keeping healthy bones is through flexibility exercises. These will help you boost muscle strength, lessen joint pain, improve balance and maintain bone thickness. When done properly, you can be able to perform physical activity and regular tasks. Tai chi, Pilates, yoga and stretching are just some examples of flexibility activities.
Not able to touch your toes? Suffering from stiff hips or sore back? Learn the best flexibility workouts - all without foregoing size or strength!

1. Walking

Brisk walking proves to be a good exercise to increase flexibility. It is a stress-buster, helps boost heart rate as well as works the lower body muscles. Aside from that, walking is low impact and helps joint health, which makes it perfect for beginners. Take a long step to stretch your hip flexors. And if you want to stretch your calf muscles, it is best to walk uphill. You may vary your walking exercise to take your joints through their complete range of motion, which eventually increases your overall flexibility.

2. Yoga

When it comes to the best exercises for increasing flexibility, yoga is always included in the list. It is an Indian meditation technique that helps reduce and anxiety and stress as well as improves balance. Among the perfect yoga exercises for maximizing flexibility and strength are Bakasana, Uttplutih and Navasana. You can take a class from a community center or local gym. DVDs and online lessons are also a good start to practice yoga.


3. Tai Chi

Tai chi boasts a long list of health benefits that can make the most of at all ages. Researches highlight the rare benefits of tai chi as an effective home exercise alternative to promote well-being and health. It is believed to be a perfect form of exercise for people with chronic pain or any conditions that restrict more dynamic exercise. Often times, it minimizes stiffness and chronic pain. Also, it helps improve coordination, strength and flexibility as well as conditions the body. When practiced on a regular basis, tai chi can improve the quality of your sleep. In spite of aging, this type of exercise can guarantee excellent results, as long as done properly.

4. Resistance Training

Also known as weight training or strength training, resistance training builds the anaerobic endurance, skeletal muscle sizes and strength. It makes use of an external force to encourage contraction of muscles. This eventually results in increased muscle size, tone, endurance and strength. Generally, resistance training is carried out with the use of resistance bands, dumbbells and other resistance equipment. Many have proven that this exercise is great at increasing the mineral density of our bones, which is important in preventing ageing-rated diseases (e.g. osteoporosis, osteopenia) and reduce in bone mass. In order t maintain improvement, it is suggested to vary the resistance training program every 6 to 8 weeks.

5. Body Weight Training

Theoretically, body weight exercises denote to calisthenics. It is a simple, effective and cheap way to boost body strength and enhance flexibility and balance. What makes body weight training more preferred by many is that you don't need a device or extra equipment to carry out this exercise. Even those with busy schedules can perform it during the break. Simply push or pull yourself up with your body weight. As easy as that! Wall sits, stair climbing, chair dips, pushups and lunges are some of the best examples of this form of exercise. Weight-bearing exercises help increase our body's bone fortification to protect our skeletal frame. This is vital for preventing bone loss, falls and fractures.

How much stretching do you need?

Stretching exercises are good to perform three to five times in every session. Stretch in a smooth and slow manner into the position you feel comfortable. For those who are not used to stretching yet, hold the stretch for around ten seconds. You'll find stretching easier if you do it more often.

How about those who are recovering from a stroke or cardiac event?

After a heart attack or suffering from a cardiac event, you may feel scared doing some sort of exercise. Regular physical activity, however, can help minimize the chances of experiencing another heart attack. To ensure your overall health and safety, it is best and necessary to seek the help of a doctor. They will prescribe exercises that will best suit to your body needs.
Doing exercise and physical activity after stroke can improve upper arm strength, walking ability and cardiovascular fitness. So, if you've had a stroke or heart attack, talk with the doctor before conducting an exercise habit to ensure you are following an effective and safe physical activity program.

In order to have a safe stretching, breathe and relax normally. Make it slow and smooth, not vivacious or jumpy. This will cause tightened muscles, which may lead to injuries. When doing a straight position, do not lock your joints, instead, keep them slightly bent.

Having a good flexibility is crucial to avoid injury. Aside from athletes, individuals can also benefit a lot from the flexibility exercises towards a strong, healthy body. Increasing flexibility is not necessarily a hard thing to do, however, patience is highly suggested. You need to keep at it until you achieve your goal. But of course, combining it with hydration, nutrition and lifestyle choices is a much better step.

By doing these easy-to-follow, effective exercises, you are sure to feel the flex benefits your body needs! You can also do these exercises along with your family or friends and together, aim for a healthy body!

References:
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00310
https://startsat60.com/health/big-issues/bone-health/five-exercises-to-strengthen-bones-and-ward-off-osteoporosis
http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/healthy-living/fitness/news/a29049/best-exercises-for-your-body/

Author's Bio: Melissa is a young and energetic writer, a mom to a sweet little boy, and a fur-mom to two perfect pooches. Before becoming the Associate Content Director for projectfemale.com, she was a journalist specializing in topics related to women in politics and policy affecting women.

7 Exercises for Increasing Flexibility

Flexibility is important - especially as you get older.

Having loose, supple muscles will give you more energy on a day to day basis - and you will experience less pain thanks to your increased flexibility. As your week goes on, many people accumulate their stress and muscle fatigue in the shoulders, neck and back. Athletes commonly carry muscular stress in the hips, hamstrings, and calves - proof that anyone can get pain from muscle fatigue if they don't spend ample time keeping their muscles flexible.

Muscular tightness will drag you down, ruin your posture over time, cause you to feel clumsy and slow, and increase the risk of injury when you push yourself too hard.

Thus stretching to increase your flexibility is a critical part of any cardio or weight training regimen. Muscles fully develop with contracting (lifting) and lengthening (stretching). Unless you want short, stocky muscles, then you will need to stretch!

8 Exercises for Increasing Flexibility

1. When your muscles are warm it is time to stretch!

Stretch whenever you can. If you ran up a few flights of stairs at work, stretch your legs while sitting back at the desk. Of course, stretch thoroughly after every single workout, and be sure to include the whole body, regardless of what muscle group was worked that day.

2. Get up to stretch after every hour of sitting!

Sitting causes spinal compression, hunched shoulders, and tight legs. After every hour of sitting down, stand up to stretch for at least 1-2 minutes. Reach up, bend down, stretch forward, back and side to side.

3. Practice static stretching!

Hold stretches with no rocking or bouncing for 15-30 seconds and repeat each two to three times. Breath deeply through the nose and on every exhalation, try to lengthen the stretch a little more.

4. Take a yoga class for fun!

You can't do much better than yoga in terms of a long, deep stretching session. Plus get the benefit of a full body strength and balance workout.

5. Learn to do the splits!

Ever wanted to do the splits? Anyone can learn how to do the splits. It is actually a lot easier to learn than most people think. Men, overweight people, even the elderly can easily learn to do the splits.


6. Bufferfly stretches are fun and easy!

You probably already know how to do these. They're very easy to learn so why not do them regularly?

Daily butterfly stretches increase flexibility in your inner and outer thighs, making the splits easier.

To perform a butterfly split, sit with your knees bent and tilted out so that each knee forms a "V" to the side. Touch your feet together and place your hands on your feet to remain balanced. Pull your feet in toward your groin and hold the stretch. To deepen the stretch, extend your knees toward the ground slowly and hold the stretch for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times daily. As the exercise becomes easier, pull your feet in closer to your groin. Your back should remain straight during this stretch.

7. Keep trying new things and keep at it!
While I must stress that you avoid any activities that might injure yourself, trying new stretches will also boost your flexibility progress over time. Use your common sense to determine which stretches work for you and which ones you would rather not do because you know you are not ready yet.

When it comes to trying new stretches you will not notice physical results quickly - stretching results always takes a lot of time - but you will feel amazing over time and that will be the biggest reward when you don't feel as much pain in your muscles and joints as you used to! It's common to think that stretching is boring but once you get into a routine you will wonder how you lived before feeling limber, with a skip in your step every day.

Why Good Posture Matters

Bad posture hurts your muscles and harms your bone structure.

Good posture builds muscle and maintains bone structure.

But that isn't the end of it. Posture also effects your quality of sleep, eating habits, overall fitness, ability to perform a variety of exercises, and your overall health.

Now how do you improve your posture?

Start by ridding yourself of bad habits like slouching while you sit, leaning forward or backwards too much. Next do stretches every day to improve your flexibility. Lastly, yoga and abdominal exercises will also help to improve your posture - but general exercise will help too.


How to do the Splits

Flexibility training isn't something that most people do. But it is something I would personally would like to do more.

Keeping in mind that I have no background in dancing, gymnastics or acrobatics. I am more or less just an average guy who is into exercising a lot. (Although I do admit I sit cross-legged quite a bit so I might have a slight advantage.)

Thus learning how to do the splits is a technical challenge for anyone who wants to practice stretching and flexibility exercises.

MYTH BUSTING

#1. The first thing I want to do is point out that ANYONE can do the splits if they practice flexibility exercises - even men and overweight people. Flexibility has very little to do with what sex you are or what size you are. It has nothing to do with age either. For this reason I have chosen a variety of images which disprove any myths you might have about flexibility. Sex, age, size, race, etc have nothing to do with your ability to be flexible. It is purely a matter of stretching exercises.

93-year-old woman doing the splits.
#2. Learning to do the splits doesn't take as long as you think. It should take roughly one to three months to reach the point where YOU can do the splits. But you will need to be diligent about doing your stretching exercises every day and I do mean EVERY DAY.

#3. You might think "Oh yes, men can do the splits, but they'd have to be a martial artists already or a really good athlete who is already super flexible to do the splits." Yes, it is true, many martial artists and athletes can do the splits - but only because they have trained themselves to do them. You have to get away from that way of thinking where you think A (natural ability) causes B (flexibility), when in reality it is C (practice, practice, practice) that is responsible for improved flexibility. You might also think that men with lots of muscle and / or fat cannot do the splits. In which case I invite you to browse the various photos on this page.

Man doing the splits
Overweight Older Man doing the Splits
Now that I have proven how it can actually be done lets get down to what exactly is the splits.

THE SPLITS - DEFINITION

A split is a stretch that completely extends the legs so that they and the base of the torso are flat on the ground. There are TWO kinds of splits. You can do a split with your torso facing over one leg - known as a Side Split - or with your torso facing forward - a Front Split.

Usually people start by learning front splits because it is slightly easier and takes less time to learn how to do them. The amount of time it takes you to learn to do a split depends upon your physical fitness, diet, metabolism, coordination, age and flexibility - but it is not impossible for you to learn regardless of any of those factors. Most people can build up to doing a front split in a month. If you have any injuries that effect your flexibility, consult your doctor before beginning training.

HOW TO TRAIN YOURSELF TO DO THE SPLITS


#1. DAILY BUTTERFLY STRETCHES

Perform daily butterfly stretches. These stretches increase flexibility in your inner and outer thighs, making the splits easier.

To perform a butterfly split, sit with your knees bent and tilted out so that each knee forms a "V" to the side. Touch your feet together and place your hands on your feet to remain balanced. Pull your feet in toward your groin and hold the stretch. To deepen the stretch, extend your knees toward the ground slowly and hold the stretch for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times daily. As the exercise becomes easier, pull your feet in closer to your groin. Your back should remain straight during this stretch.

Remember to repeat daily! I know I am beating an old drum here, but remembering to do these stretches daily is a huge benefit to your ability to improve your flexibility.

#2. STRETCH YOUR KNEES AND LEGS DAILY

Stretch your knees and legs daily. While kneeling, put one foot in front of you on a mat, stool or other sturdy item elevated a foot off the ground. Your knee should be bent at 90 degrees. Extend your other leg back behind you. Then push your hips forward until you feel your muscles stretching. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat 5 times daily.

#3. STANDING LEG STRETCHES

Stretch your legs while standing. This helps improve balance and flexibility. While standing place one foot in front of you on a mat or other sturdy item about a foot off of the floor. Keep your back foot flat on the ground. Then extend your arms forward to touch the toes of the front foot and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat the stretch on the other side. Repeat 10 times each side every day. However many flexibility experts say that the more frequently you perform this stretch, the better your balance and flexibility will become - so in theory you could do a lot more than 10 per day. However if you start to feel any extreme pain I recommend stopping immediately.

#4. ATTEMPT TO DO THE SPLITS

Don't expect to do the splits the first time or even the 20th day or the 30th day. Many people can do them by day 30, but lets pretend for a moment that you skipped doing your stretching exercises for a few days then you will have slower results.

Other factors such as diet, metabolism, etc will slow you down a bit, but basically anyone should be able to do the splits by day 90 of doing the stretches.

During your attempt stand up and spread your legs slowly to the ground into a split while supporting yourself using a stable chair or ballet barre. Go down as far as you can without experiencing pain or shaking legs. Hold the position for three to five seconds and repeat the stretch five times daily. This stretch (even if you fail) helps you improve muscle memory, flexibility and balance, all of which are important for splits. You will gradually be able to lower yourself closer and closer to a split.

It just takes time and daily practice.

CONCLUSIONS

If you were paying attention and doing some math you may have noticed it only requires 5 + 10 + (10 x 2) + 5 stretches each day to do the splits. It is a total of 40 stretches per day. Takes you about 5 to 10 minutes per day.

But the results are amazing regardless of what size or shape you are.

With time you could even do super flexible things you normally expect of dancers and gymnasts.

Don't think that just because they are young and skinny that you can't do it. You can. It just takes time, practice, diligence, a little willpower and 40 stretches per day.


Just 40 stretches per day.



Overweight Man doing the Splits
Elderly Woman doing the Splits
Bodybuilder doing the Splits

8 Fun Football Exercises - Useful for Everyone

You don't have to play football to enjoy football exercises. Indeed most football exercises are actually stretches or cardio. A few are even bodyweight exercises.

Some of them are also ab workouts and/or work your obliques (side muscles). The end result is that football exercises are both versatile and inexpensive (you can buy a football for approx. $15 to $20).

So find yourself a clear space to exercise, get out your football [although in theory, any large ball will do - basketball, soccer ball, volleyball, etc.] and get ready for some exercises.

#1. Twists

Standing with two feet apart hold the football in front of you with both hands. Without moving your hips or legs, twist your upper torso as far to the right as you can. While you do so maintain arm pressure on the football in front of you. Do the same again to the left. Repeat 100 times.

This is my personal favourite of all my football exercises. Once you get good at it you can go really fast and it ends up being really exhilarating. It stretches and works the obliques and your lower back muscles.

#2. Squat Jumps

Holding the football in front of you and maintaining your torso in an upward position lower yourself into a squatting position. Then jump upwards, raising the football high above your head. Repeat 20 times.

#3. Forward + Backwards Bends and Sides

Standing with your feet apart place the football behind your head and hold it in place with both hands. Lean forward like you are doing a situp. Then do the same but lean backwards. Next lean to the right as far as you dare, then the left. Repeat 20 times.

#4. Knee Bumps

Holding the ball in front in front of you with both hands, raise your right knee until it is just below the football. Next in one swift motion lower your right knee and raise your left knee in a jump and try to bump the football out of your hands. (You may feel like you are doing that kick from the 1st Karate Kid movie.) With your hands try to with-strain the ball as best you can. Repeat 20 times.

#5. Squeezes

This exercise is easy. Just squeeze the football between both hands and move from side to side, squeezing as hard as you can, alternating which arm you are pushing the most with. Continue this exercise for 2 minutes.

#6. Toss and Catch

Catching a football requires good hand-eye coordination and also muscle coordination / balance. Simply tossing a football in the air and catching it with one or both hands is good exercise. Try to alternate which hands you throw and catch with. Throw and catch 100 times.

#7. Football Situps

Sit and balance yourself on top of your football. Place your feet out in front of you and lean backwards about 45 degrees. Then lean forward you are doing a situp, but without falling off the football. I admit this is nearly identical to using a standard exercise ball, but with a football it is lower to the ground and provides less stability due to it shape, thus you will need to pay attention to you balance. Try not to fall off it. :)

#8. Circle Passing

Pass the football behind your back from your left hand to your right hand, then in front of you from right to left, completing a circular motion. Repeat 50 times and then switch direction.


Better yet, find a friend or family member and go outside and throw the ball back and forth for an hour or so!

Mid Workout Stretching

Out of breath during your cardio or weightlifting workout?

Pause and do some stretches.

Why?

#1. Regular Stretching increases and maintains flexibility.

#2. It gives you a moment to catch your breath and recharge available energy in your blood.

#3. Stretching exercises smaller muscles that most people forget about, like your obliques (side muscles).

#4. Stretching reduces muscle tension. Ergo, less pain in your muscles and joints.

#5. It also improves your muscular coordination.

#6. Improves balance.

#7. Exercises core muscles.

#8. Increases circulation and energy levels.

#9. Prevents sports injuries if done properly and regularly.

#10. Decreases the likelihood of injuries as you get older (eg. falls and breaking your hip).

#11. Mid exercise and post exercise Stretching helps with muscle recovery and helps condition your tendons/muscles.

#12. Because sometimes it just feels really good to have a good stretch!
Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing cardiotrek@gmail.com and lets talk fitness!

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