Calories: Playing Safe

Sharon Jane Akinyemi

Sharon Jane Akinyemi

By Sharon Jane Akinyemi

Last week I took some time to highlight on five important tips to crush 1000 calories which  are  also required for overall fitness. And this was because I really needed you to know that you can on your own design your own active lifestyle and also know what to do when you are getting overboard.

Interestingly I dwelled more on cutting down on food types, size and being physically active. But today we shall be looking at how important Flexibility is to our overall fitness.

I visited a sick neighbour some years ago who had stroke. I felt so sorry for her and when I asked how it all began, I was told she wanted to save her little girl who had broken a glass cup and was about to be badly injured by the pieces of the shattered glass. So in attempt to save her child  she rushed to pull her out of danger zone, she fell and collapsed. Luckily a close friend of hers stopped  by to say hello,discovered the situation and quickly rushed her to the hospital. The doctor examined her and broke the bad news to her family that she had been diagnosed of stroke.

Studies have shown that inactivity is one of the reason for stroke.

Your flexibility is determined by how mobile your joints are. How easily can you move, stretch, and bend? We all start life with incredible abilities. Have you seen babies manage to place  their tasty toes into their tiny mouth? Newborns are very flexible. We all spend nine months curled up into a little ball. It takes us a lifetime to grow stiff and tight, unbendable and inflexible.

Muscular flexibility improves your posture, appearance and overall performance. By staying flexible , you can decrease the risk of joints injuries and muscle strains. When you have engaged in too much activities, stretching can also help reduce muscle soreness. As you get older, your flexibility naturally decreases. However, with a regular stretching program you can slow down the process. Regular stretching improves posture, corrects muscle imbalances, soothes painful areas of the body, gives you a supple figure with elongated muscles, and improves your flexibility. Females generally have more flexibility than men.

It is important to stretch properly to avoid injury.(bouncing) stretching  is not recommended; static stretching that holds the muscle in one position without bouncing is best. And stretching is more effective when you warm up properly first. Warm muscles will relax and lengthen much more readily.

Our bodies are incredibly adaptable machines. If we keep doing exactly the same thing (such as walking or running each day), over time our bodies will burn approximately 25 percent less calories while doing that activity. For those of us who are trying to burn maximum calories, this is not good news!

Body Confidence Fitness Centre recommends flexibility training three times a week. These sessions need not be long; five to ten minutes will stretch the whole body.

Hold each stretch  for ten to thirty seconds and repeat each three to five times for best results.

Some Rules To Remember In Stretching.

-Move slowly. Hurrying is the antithesis to stretching. Feel the stretch-but not the pain.

-Hold each stretch for ten counts. Or at least work up to that.

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-Don’t bounce or jerk. This contracts the muscle instead of elongating it. Plus you risk injuring yourself. Torn muscles take weeks and months to heal.

-Breath deeply. Stretching can actually increase your lung capacity  if you concentrate  on breathing deeply into your diaphragm . The increase in oxygen is beneficial. And deep breathing calms you down, releasing stress and tension from your body.

Work flexibility exercises into your daily life. Does a cat have a special time for stretching? No she does it whenever she feels like her body needs it. A good slow stretch will wake you up in the morning. Remember that stretching energises you. When you are behind your desk in the afternoon or while driving on a trip, stop and take  a stretch break.

Starting a New Exercise Programme

Need some exercise ideas? Check out these  exercises ideas that promote good posture, strength, movement, flexibility and balance. Be sure to do them along with your weight-bearing exercises.

If you haven’t exercised regularly for a while, check with your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise program—particularly if you have health problems such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure. If you’re at high risk of breaking a bone, you should work with a physical therapist to develop a safe exercise program.

Once you have your healthcare provider’s approval, start slowly.  Be very careful to avoid activities that require reaching down, bending forward, rapid twisting motions, heavy lifting and those that increase your chance of a fall.

As you get started, your muscles may feel sore for a day or two after you exercise. If soreness lasts longer, you may be working too hard and need to ease up. Exercises should be done in a pain-free range of motion.

How Much Exercise Do You Need?

Weight-bearing exercises

30 minutes on most days of the week. Do a 30-minute session or multiple sessions spread out throughout the day. The benefits to your bones are the same.

Muscle-strengthening exercises

Two to three days per week. If you don’t have much time for strengthening/resistance training, do small amounts at a time. You can do just one body part each day. For example do arms one day, legs the next and trunk the next. You can also spread these exercises out during your normal day.