Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Bodyweight Exercises

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Updated July 02, 2014.

Getting fit doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple bodyweight exercises are often the best choice for those without a lot of time, money and motivation to learn or employ the latest fitness fads. Bodyweight training can also be a great choice for building strength, gaining muscle, boosting cardiovascular fitness, and burning calories. Here are ten reasons to get on board with bodyweight training.

  1. Fast Fitness Gains
    Bodyweight exercises lead to fitness gains in a hurry. Most bodyweight exercises require you to perform multi-joint movements (compound exercises) that work against gravity. These types of movements (squats, lunges, push ups) all make up the cornerstone of any strength training routine and are extremely effective for building strength and boosting cardiovascular fitness. The fact that you can do the exercise anywhere makes it far less likely that you’ll skip a workout, and the This is a perfect formula for building fitness quickly. Add in the fact that many bodyweight exercises automatically engage core strength and stability moves, and you have a recipe for a well-rounded, effective exercise you can do for the long-term.

  2. Functional Fitness
    It’s not surprising that performing bodyweight training is ultimately performing functional fitness movements. Functional fitness is, by definition, exercising the muscles and the movement patterns that are using in real-life, daily activities. In essence, you aren’t doing exercise in a gym that is nothing like the way you move your body in real life.
  3. High Intensity Intervals
    Bodyweight exercises are ideal for creating a high intensity interval workout in a circuit format. To do this, you will perform 30-60 second intervals of one exercise (or a given number of reps), and then move to the next exercise. In this way you are able to work at a higher intensity because the duration of the exercise is shortened. It’s the opposite of going to the gym and sitting on an exercise bike for an hour or jogging for 30 minutes. With bodyweight training, you work hard for about a minute, and move to a new exercise for a minute. An example is 20 push ups followed by 5 pull ups followed by 15 jump lunges and so on.
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  4. No Equipment Needed
    Although you could use some dumbbells, a pull up bar, or other small equipment during bodyweight training, you don’t need to. There are many combinations of movements you can perform without anything more than your own body. This makes it even easier to do your workout anywhere.
  5. Not Much Space Needed
    Even the most intense of all bodyweight exercises—burpees—can be done with no more than a little bit of floor space.
  6. Easy To Customize
    Bodyweight exercises are good for both novice and elite athletes because they can be easily modified. Varying body position can change the effort level of the movement. For example, you can perform incline or decline pushups depending upon your level of ability. You can perform wall sits or tuck jumps to match your conditioning. You can also add more reps or sets to make it more challenging.
  7. Tons of Variety
    The number of bodyweight exercise you can do (and think of) is endless so it’s unlikely you will find yourself bored by doing the same moves, or the same workout over and over. Performing a variety of exercises doesn’t just mean you will end boredom, but you will also help prevent overtraining and reduce your risk of injury by varying your movements. Bodyweight exercise is a great form of crosstraining. It can also help break through strength plateaus and help continue making fitness gains.
  8. Cheap or Free Workouts
    Gym memberships, classes, equipment, and gear can all add up to a significant annual expense. And if you don’t use it or show up at the gym because it’s not convenient, you are just wasting a lot of money on something that isn’t helping you get or stay fit. Bodyweight training is free or extremely low cost. Move your body and get fit. It doesn’t get much  simpler than that.
  9. Super Convenient
    Because you don’t need to go somewhere special, or get the right equipment, gear or space, you can do bodyweight exercise any time, any where. You can also easily break up your workout into smaller sessions—20 pushups when you wake, 50 Squat Jumps before dinner,  one minutes of planks before bed—and reduce your excuses for skipping a “workout.” Use bodyweight exercises just one time, and you will see how it’s pretty hard to say you don’t have time, space, money, equipment or knowledge to stick with an exercise routine. Bodyweight training makes your excuses evaporate.
  10. Build Balance and Proprioception
    A wonderful added bonus of many bodyweight movements is that they require an automatic engagement of core muscles for stability and strength in order to correctly perform the movements. Without machines,  bodyweight exercises require individuals to maintain their own movement patterns, and often build balance and improve proprioception in the process.

Exercises for Strength and Muscle

168006448.jpg - Robert Daly/OJO Images/Getty Images

 

Robert Daly/OJO Images/Getty Images

 

Updated November 20, 2014.

Using the weight of your own body to create resistance was one of the earliest forms of strength training. It’s easy to learn, effective, and you can do it just about anywhere.

Although you can get quite inventive, the following exercises are the primary bodyweight exercises and how to do them. It’s a somewhat fine distinction, but the core resistance bodyweight exercises are not the same as calisthenics, stretching, plyometrics or most yoga exercises (in my opinion anyway), although they may include elements of all these disciplines.

The exercises form the core of any bodyweight workout program. Many others are variations and trivial modifications.

Push-ups

The push-up is a classic bodyweight exercise, and it demonstrates quite clearly the principle of bodyweight resistance training.

  1. Lie face down on the floor, preferably on a firm carpet or mat or rubber surface, with feet together.
  2. Place your hands on the floor at shoulder level, facing forward. Keep a slight bubble in the hands and fingers, rather than positioning them flat on the hard surface.
  3. Raise your body up on the hands and toes until elbows are nearly straight, then lower to a point where the elbow is at a right angle. Don’t let your body touch the floor.
  4. One “up and down” is one push-up repetition. Don’t go too fast or too slow. Keep the head and neck steady.
  5. Do as many as you can in one minute, rest, then try again. Rest your knees on the ground if you find the exercise difficult when you first start out.

The push-up develops strength in the chest, shoulders and the triceps muscles of the upper arms.

 

The Squat

The squat without weights may seem easy, but once you get up around the 20 rep mark it starts to take a toll on the knees, upper legs and butt until you build some condition. Here’s how it goes:

  1. Stand with feet about shoulder width apart. Keep hands on your hips, crossed over the chest, held out in front, or at your sides. I like the hands out in front because it allows you to settle back a little into the squat and put some emphasis on the butt muscles and hamstrings.
  2. Keeping the back straight, bend the knees and squat down until your knees are are at approximately 90 degrees (a right angle).
  3. Push up to the starting position and repeat. The squat develops legs and butt muscles and, over time, may strengthen knee joints. However, be cautious with this exercise if you have an existing knee injury or feel knee pain at any stage in the workout.
  4. Start with 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Lunges

The lunge is a fundamental bodyweight exercise. Done in sets of 8 or more (each leg), lunges provide strength, balance and flexibility training. You can see how to perform the lunge in this example of a weighted lunge .Options include a variety of arm positions — at the sides, straight out in front, raised at each side, crossed at the chest or straight up overhead. Try them all, as each arm position provides a slightly different emphasis and perhaps level of difficulty. For example, the arms raised at the sides provides better balance and stability than arms crossed at the chest.

Other more advanced options include the backward lunge and the 45-degree angle side lunge.

Crunches

Crunches are a key exercise for strengthening the abdominal muscles. Many different types of crunches are possible. Some of the best are:

  • Standard crunch, in which the shoulders are raised off the floor while you contract the abs
  • Reverse crunch, in which the legs and knees are raised off the floor while you contract the abs
  • Combo crunch, which is a combination of both of the above
  • Bicycle crunch, which includes all of the above and you peddle the legs in the air as well (see examples in this article on best crunches)

Dips

Dips are performed with a chair or bench. You can also use a special machine at the gym that helps you. These are called “assisted dips.” These instructions are for the standard dip from a bench:

  1. Make sure you select a secure bench or chair that will not slide from under you.
  2. Sit on a bench or chair and slide your butt forward off the bench so that you are supporting your whole body weight on your hands, with your butt hanging and your feet on the ground.
  3. Lower your body down until the elbow is at about 90 degrees (a right angle). Don’t go below this, as the shoulder joint can get in a position that may not be safe for some people.
  4. You can start out with the legs bent at about 90 degrees and your feet more or less flat on the floor, then extend them out as you get stronger until your “dipping” on your heels with your feet stretched out in front of you.

Pull-ups and Chin-ups

  1. Stand below the bar, steady, then jump up and grab the bar with an overhand grip a little wider than shoulder width.
  2. Haul yourself up so that your mouth is about level with the bar. You can go higher if you want to clear the chin.
  3. Pull your shoulder blades back at the same time as you lift.

Variations include using an underhand or wide and narrow grips, claps, alternating over- and underhand, leg position and more.Do as many as you can in a minute, then see if you have anything left for another set.

Pull-ups are demonstrated in this article. It’s a difficult exercise for many people, especially women. While pull-ups or chin-ups are a good example of a bodyweight exercise, you may not have a pull-up bar at home or anywhere convenient. Most gyms have a pull-up bar, and you can improvise at home or away with a beam or bar meant for other things. Make sure it’s solid and secure.

These six bodyweight exercises are all you need to build good strength and muscle in a fitness program. Don’t forget that you can use most of them at just about any time and any place.

The Hidden Benefits of Exercise

Even Moderate Physical Activity Can Boost the Immune System and Protect Against Chronic Diseases

Updated Jan. 5, 2010 12:01 a.m. ET
As millions of Americans flock to the gym armed with New Year’s resolutions to get in shape, medical experts are offering an additional reason to exercise: Regular workouts may help fight off colds and flu, reduce the risk of certain cancers and chronic diseases and slow the process of aging.Physical activity has long been known to bestow such benefits as helping to maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress, not to mention tightening those abs. Now, a growing body of research is showing that regular exercise—as simple as a brisk30- to 45-minute walk five times a week—can boost the body’s immune system, increasing the circulation of natural killer cells that fight off viruses and bacteria. And exercise has been shown to improve the body’s response to the influenza vaccine, making it more effective at keeping the virus at bay.”No pill or nutritional supplement has the power of near-daily moderate activity in lowering the number of sick days people take,” says David Nieman, director of Appalachian State University’s Human Performance Lab in Kannapolis, N.C. Dr. Nieman has conducted several randomized controlled studies showing that people who walked briskly for 45 minutes, five days a week over 12 to 15 weeks had fewer and less severe upper respiratory tract infections, such as colds and flu. These subjects reduced their number of sick days 25% to 50% compared with sedentary control subjects, he says.

Medical experts say inactivity poses as great a health risk as smoking, contributing to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, depression, arthritis and osteoporosis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 36% of U.S. adults didn’t engage in any leisure-time physical activity in 2008.

Even lean men and women who are inactive are at higher risk of death and disease. So while reducing obesity is an important goal, “the better message would be to get everyone to walk 30 minutes a day” says Robert Sallis, co-director of sports medicine at Fontana Medical Center, a Southern California facility owned by managed-care giant Kaiser Permanente. “We need to refocus the national message on physical activity, which can have a bigger impact on health than losing weight.”

Regular exercise has been shown to combat the ongoing damage done to cells, tissues and organs that underlies many chronic conditions. Indeed, studies have found that exercise can lower blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol, and cut the incidence of Type 2 diabetes.

What’s Your Workout?

Bryan Derballa for The Wall Street Journal

Jim Coddington preserves art for a living. His other racket is the one he swings on the squash court to keep fit. Plus, see more executives’ workout routines.

Building on that earlier research, scientific studies are now suggesting that exercise-induced changes in the body’s immune system may protect against some forms of cancer. For example, Harvard Medical School’s consumer Web site (hms.harvard.edu/public/consumer) notes that more than 60 studies in recent years taken together suggest that women who exercise regularly can expect a 20% to 30% reduction in the chance of getting breast cancer compared with women who didn’t exercise. While researchers are still studying the molecular changes caused by exercise and how they affect cancer, the studies suggest the outcome could be due to exercise’s ability to lower estrogen levels.

One study of 3,000 women being treated for breast cancer, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that for those patients with hormone-responsive tumors, walking the equivalent of three to five hours per week at an average pace reduced the risk of dying from the disease by 50% compared with more sedentary women.

Researchers are also investigating whether exercise can influence aging in the body. In particular, they are looking at whether exercise lengthens telomeres, the strands of DNA at the tips of chromosomes. When telomeres get too short, cells no longer can divide and they become inactive, a process associated with aging, cancer and a higher risk of death.

In a study published in November in Circulation, the medical journal of the American Heart Association, German researchers compared two groups of professional athletes (32 of whom were in their early 20s, and 25 who were middle-aged) with two groups (26 young and 21 middle-aged) who were healthy nonsmokers, but not regular exercisers. The athletes had significantly less erosion in telomeres than their more sedentary counterparts. The study concluded that physical activity has an anti-aging effect at the cellular level, suggesting exercise could prevent aging of the cardiovascular system.

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Health Column

Wake-Up Call for Couch Potatoes

The federal government, which issued its first physical-activity guidelines for Americans in 2008, is developing a national plan to encourage their use. Here are recommendations for adults:

  • At least two hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or one hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Aerobic-activity episodes should last at least 10 minutes, preferably spread through the week.
  • Additional health benefits are gained from as much as doubling the minimum recommended time spent each week in moderate or vigorous aerobic physical activity.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities for all major muscle groups two or more days a week.
  • Moderate activity can include ballroom and line dancing; biking on level ground or with a few hills; canoeing; gardening (raking, trimming shrubs); tennis (doubles); brisk walking; water aerobics.
  • Among vigorous-activity exercises are aerobic dance; biking faster than 10 miles an hour; heavy gardening (digging, hoeing); tennis (singles); jumping rope; swimming laps; hiking uphill; race walking, jogging or running.

— U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

Efforts are underway to get sedentary Americans moving. The federal government issued its first national exercise guidelines in 2008. Now it is working with a number of medical and fitness groups to develop a National Physical Activity plan, to be released early this year, to encourage Americans to adhere to the guidelines.

The guidelines, developed by the Department of Health and Human Services and available online at health.gov/paguidelines, recommend that adults get at least two hours and 30 minutes weekly of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or one hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, or an equivalent combination of both. The guidelines also say that additional health benefits can be had from as much as doubling the minimum recommendation for aerobic exercise. Also recommended: muscle-strengthening activities two or more days per week, which protects against a decline in bone mass, especially that experienced by post-menopausal women.

Kaiser Permanente’s Dr. Sallis also is chairman of Exercise is Medicine, a two-year-old program developed by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Medical Association to encourage doctors to assess and review each patient’s physical activity program at every visit. A survey by the ACSM, whose members include physicians and exercise-science professionals, found that only four out of 10 doctors talk to their patients about the importance of exercise, and they don’t always offer suggestions on the best ways to be physically active.

Kaiser Permanente’s California facilities last year began rolling out exercise counseling to eight million members as part of their regular doctor visits. The company also has set up a toll-free telephone line to help members create a personal-fitness plan incorporating favorite activities like gardening. “Exercise can be used like a vaccine to prevent disease and a medication to treat disease,” says Dr. Sallis. “If there were a drug with the same benefits as exercise, it would instantly be the standard of care.”

While some patients may have risk factors such as heart conditions that could lead to heart attacks and sudden cardiac death with physical exertion, physicians can screen for such risks before prescribing an exercise program. Also, the exerciseismedicine.org Web site includes videos and self-assessment tools for consumers on how to start an exercise program, including how to exercise with diseases such as asthma and heart disease, and exercise following a stroke or heart attack.

Starting an exercise program can have benefits at any age, but is particularly important for those over 40, when physical strength, endurance, flexibility and balance begin to decline, says Pamela Peeke, a Bethesda, Md., physician and fitness expert who is the author of “Fit to Live,” an advice book on how to create and stick to a fitness plan.

Naomi Henderson, 66, says Dr. Peeke gave her an exercise prescription several years ago, when she weighed 220 pounds. The plan called for Ms. Henderson, who owns her own market-research company, to start by walking on a treadmill five minutes a day and gradually increase the duration as her fitness level improved. Eventually she was able to walk in a marathon. Ms. Henderson says she has slimmed down to a size 12 from an 18 and says she is rarely ill. “I look at exercise as no different than a drug I have to take to stay healthy,” she says.

Lisa Callahan, co-director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery, says her patients are often only partially aware of the benefits of exercise.

They may know that it is helpful in reducing their risk of osteoporosis, for example, but they usually don’t know that a combination of strength training, aerobic exercise and balance training is most effective at staving off the disease, says Dr. Callahan, who is the author of “The Fitness Factor,” a guide for women.

Dr. Nieman, of Appalachian State University, says that during exercise, two types of immune cells circulate more freely in the blood, neutralizing pathogens. Although the immune system returns to normal within three hours, the effect of the exercise is cumulative, adding up over time to reduce illness rates, he says. He compares the process to “a cleaner who comes in for an hour a day, so by the end of a month, your house looks much better.”

But, Dr. Nieman says, high-intensity exercise over long periods, like running a marathon, can “take a good thing too far.” Such exertion can induce the release of stress hormones in the body that damp some functions of the immune system temporarily, increasing susceptibility to infection for short periods. He cites a five-year study he conducted on 350 athletes who completed an ultra-marathon 160-kilometer race in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Among the contestants, one out of four reported sickness in the two weeks following the races.

Still, says Robert Mazzeo, a professor in the department of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado in Boulder, although a single bout of intense exercise can suppress the immune system, long-term training in marathoners and other athletes can boost their baseline immunity and ability to respond to the stress of intense exercising.

Rather than worrying about super athletes, however, “my concern is the sedentary people who start out pumping the Stairmaster too hard, then get sick and stop working out,” says Dr. Mazzeo. “If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to get in shape, don’t try to do it all at once,” he says.

Super Charge the Biceps Curl

 Sports exersice Supercharge

Nothing says strength like a pair of strong and defined biceps. Everyone from bodybuilders and athletes to novice exercisers perform exercises for the biceps in their weekly strength-training routines, each striving for that athletic look the biceps help to achieve. Now, the biceps are not the strongest or the biggest muscle in the body, but you can’t argue the fact that biceps are one of the best “show” muscles.

The biceps is located on the front part of the upper arm between the shoulder and the elbow. Functionally, the biceps does one thing—it flexes the elbow joint. One would think that exercises for the biceps are pretty limited since they only move in one direction, but with more than 20 variations of the tried-and-true standing biceps curl, it’s easy to find a few exercises that are comfortable, challenging and best suited for you.

In addition to dumbbells, biceps curl exercises can be performed with a variety of equipment such as the barbell, EZ curl bar, cables and resistance tubing. Which equipment you choose can also determine the type of grip you use. The biceps is a two-headed muscle, with a “short” head located on the inside of the arm and a “long” head located on the outside of the arm. When performing a biceps curl with a barbell or weighted bar, a narrow grip will emphasize the long head, while a wider grip will target the short head. Wrist position—supination (palms up), pronation (palms down) or neutral (palms in)—also play a role in what part of the biceps is being targeted.

The biceps curl, with all of its variations, still has so much more to offer. With the addition of some lower-body work, changes in arm positions and a little cardio power, the biceps curl is getting a super charged makeover. Although suggestions are provided, alternate any of these super-charged biceps curl exercises with your favorites for a new and challenging twist. It’s “Arm”ageddon time!

Biceps Curl with Isometric Squat

Biceps curl with isometric squat

No weight room bench? No problem. Sit nice and low in a squat position to isolate the biceps to create your own version of the preacher curl.

Set Up: Lower down into a squat and hold this position. Place the arms in front of the legs, elbows on the thighs, palms facing up.

Execution: Continue to hold the squat position while curling the dumbbells up, keeping the elbows connected to the thighs throughout the entire movement. Perform 10 to 12 reps

Pairing: Alternate this exercise with dumbbell biceps curls with a palms-down wrist position.

Drag Curl to Front Press

Drag curl to front press

The drag curl is a nice variation to the traditional curl. Adding the front press gives the biceps another opportunity to work in this four-part exercise pattern.

Set Up: Stand holding dumbbells in each hand with a palms-up wrist position. Your arms are shoulder-width apart and the dumbbells are across the tops of your thighs.

Execution: Begin by pulling your elbows back and lift the dumbbells to chest height. The dumbbells should “drag” alongside your torso (1). Press the arms forward so that they are parallel to the ground (2). Pull the arms back in, keeping the dumbbells at chest height (3). Slowly lower the dumbbells along the same path back to the start (4). Perform 10 to 12 reps.

Pairing: Alternate this exercise with a weighted bar curl using a wide grip.

Wide Biceps Curl to Wide Shoulder Press

Wide biceps curl to shoulder press

Targeting the biceps and the shoulders, combining these two upper-body exercises helps to develop shape and strength in this four-part exercise.

Set Up: Position the legs wider than the shoulders, with toes slightly turned out. Lower down into a semi-squat position. Arms are also wider than the shoulders, with dumbbells in each hand using a palms-up wrist position.

Execution: Curl the arms up, keeping the elbows connected to your side (1). Press the dumbbells up into a “V” position (2). Lower the arms back into the wide curl (3), and release the arms back down to the starting position (4). Perform 10 to 12 reps.

Pairing: Alternate this exercise with a weighted bar curl using a narrow grip.

Biceps Curl with Side Taps

Biceps curl with side taps

Add a little taste of cardio with your strength in this combination move featuring biceps curls and side taps.

Set Up: Stand with the legs together and dumbbells in each hand with a neutral wrist position.

Execution: Tap your right foot out and curl the left arm up. Switch sides and tap your left foot out and curl your right arm up. This motion should be rhythmic in nature, switching fluidly, arms and legs, without stopping. To add intensity, perform this exercise on a 4- to 8-inch bench. Continue for 30 seconds.

Pairing: Alternate this exercise with alternating dumbbell biceps curls with a palms-up wrist position.

Upper Cuts with Bob and Weave

Upper cuts with bob and weave

Although not a traditional biceps curl, this exercise keeps tension in the biceps, similar to a chin up. It’s a fun way to burn out the arms, so save this exercise for last!

Set Up: Begin in a squat position with the arms bent, holding on to dumbbells in each hand at shoulder height.

Execution: Stand up facing the upper right-hand corner and perform four upper cuts, punching the dumbbells up toward the ceiling. Keeping the dumbbells at shoulder height, bob to the other side and perform four cuts into the upper left-hand corner. Perform for 30 seconds.

Pairing: Alternate this exercise with resistance band biceps curls.

Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity

coed exercise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know exercise is good for you, but do you know how good? From boosting your mood to improving your sex life, find out how exercise can improve your life.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Want to feel better, have more energy and perhaps even live longer? Look no further than exercise. The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. And the benefits of exercise are yours for the taking, regardless of your age, sex or physical ability. Need more convincing to exercise? Check out these seven ways exercise can improve your life.

No. 1: Exercise controls weight

Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You don’t need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap weight-loss benefits. If you can’t do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways — by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or revving up your household chores.

No. 2: Exercise combats health conditions and diseases

Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.

No. 3: Exercise improves mood

Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

No. 4: Exercise boosts energy

Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily chores.

 

No. 5: Exercise promotes better sleep

Struggling to fall asleep? Or to stay asleep? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to fall asleep.

No. 6: Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life

Do you feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Regular physical activity can leave you feeling energized and looking better, which may have a positive effect on your sex life. But there’s more to it than that. Regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise.

No. 7: Exercise can be fun

Exercise and physical activity can be a fun way to spend some time. It gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting. So, take a dance class, hit the hiking trails or join a soccer team. Find a physical activity you enjoy, and just do it. If you get bored, try something new.

The bottom line on exercise

Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you haven’t exercised for a long time, have chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis, or you have any concerns.

6 Great Post-run Yoga Exercises

 

June 24, 2014

Running is an intense sport that works within the laws of gravity and physics. In biomechanics, runners experience ground reaction forces, which is the force exerted by the ground as the body places contact. The force that is applied to each footstep will receive a reaction (force) that passes through the foot, upward toward each lower extremity joint. Without proper self-maintenance care, runners may experience skeletal or muscular pain or injury.

Incorporating yoga poses post-run is ideal to maintain flexibility and recirculate lactate build up. In addition, most yoga asanas are not isolated stretches; therefore, the body’s connective tissue and what is known as fascial lines are opened in various poses. There are various fascial lines in the body, which connect foot to head and the right and left sides of the body. Yoga improves the flexibility along these specific lines to keep the musculature balanced and flexible.

Yoga poses can be used with traditional post-run flexibility exercises. Hold each pose for 30 to 60 seconds each and complete each asana twice.

Diamond Pose – Variation

Diamond Pose

This pose opens the bottom of the foot (plantar fascia), which is the foundation for the kinetic chain; thus, it is important to keep the feet healthy and stretched.

How to Perform: Kneel onto your shins and curl the toes underneath. Slowly, sit the glutes on the back of the heel and allow the feet to open and lengthen as you maintain deep breathing. To make the stretch more challenging, interlock the hands and place them behind the head (elbows wide) to open the chest.

Standing Pigeon

Standing Pigeon

This pose opens the hip’s external rotators, which is ideal to maintain hip mobility.

How to Perform: Place the right ankle just above the left knee. Slowly sit the hips back, similar to lowering into a chair. Use a wall or tree to better maintain balance or place the hands on the shin. To practice balance, reach the arms forward in front of the chest. Switch and repeat on the opposite leg.

Standing Downward Dog

Standing downward dog

This pose opens the chest musculature while lengthening the posterior side of the lower extremities.

How to Perform: Find something stable to hold onto or on which to place your hands. Position the feet hip-distance apart and several inches in front of the hips. Shift the pelvis back to where the chest and arms come parallel to the ground. For a deeper calf stretch, lift the toes off the ground.

Pyramid Pose

Pyramid Pose

This pose lengthens the back side of the legs from the glutes toward the calves.

How to Perform: Place the right foot about 2 to 3 feet in front of the body with toes facing forward. Slowly, lower the torso to the point of flexibility and rest the hands on the shin, foot or floor. Allow the upper body to relax. Repeat on the opposite leg.

Low Lunge

Low lunge

This pose lengthens the top of the quadriceps in addition to the hip flexor muscles, which is ideal as running incorporates repetitive hip-flexion movements.

How to Perform: Place the right knee on the ground (support the knee with a towel or mat underneath) and step the left foot forward. Hinge from the pelvis to where the torso moves slightly forward and the left front of the thigh feels a stretch. Reach the arms overhead and hold; repeat on the opposite leg.

Warrior 1 With Chest Opener

Warrior 1 with chest opener

This pose is ideal to open the hip, oblique and chest musculature.

How to Perform: Find a wall or object on which to place your arm. Stand with the right side of the body facing the wall. Step the right leg back (foot may turn out to a 45-degree angle) and bend the elbow 90 degrees with the fingers facing upward. Place the forearm on the wall and lunge into the left leg toward a 90-degree angle. Tuck the pelvis forward and keep the left hand by the side. The stretch should be felt from the pelvis through the abdominals and into the chest region. Repeat on the opposite leg.

 

By Elizabeth Kovar