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Exercise Blog - Stretching and Flexibility

Monday, May 9, 2011 10:25:17 PM America/New_York

Stretching diagrams
Click on the diagrams below to learn more.

After exercise and as a result of the aging process, there is a tendency for individual muscle fibers to get shorter. This muscle shortening puts increased stress on ligaments and joints, increasing the risk of arthritis. Stretching or performing flexibility training after each exercise session helps prevent this damage.

With age the muscles of the body have a natural tendency to shorten as well. Unless you stretch these muscles regularly, they will continue to shorten, which can lead to poor posture, decreased range of motion, muscle stiffness and other problems.

Many people find another profound benefit of stretching - a feeling of overall mental and physical relaxation as you breathe deeply and as the tension leaves the muscles during the stretch.

Flexibility Training Routines - Following aerobic exercise, perform lower body stretches and, if possible, a full series of stretches. When strength training, the full series of stretches should be done-- before beginning, stretch your neck, back and abdominals; after completing, stretch the muscles that were used in strength training.

  • Stretching can be a little uncomfortable, but shouldn't hurt
  • Stretch each muscle to the point of tension, but not to the point of pain
  • Never try to stretch cold muscles
  • Hold each stretch for up to 30 seconds, but don't bounce
  • Perform neck, back, abdominal, upper body, and lower body stretches
  • Breathe slowly, and inhale and exhale deeply
  • If you only do flexibility training, do it at least three times a week

Neck, Back & Abdominals Stretches

neck stretch diagramNeck Stretch

  1. Sit or stand and relax your shoulders.
  2. Let your head drop down slowly towards your chest until you feel a gentle pull in the muscles at the back of your neck. Hold for 8 to 10 seconds.
  3. Very gently push your head backwards until you feel a slight pull at the front of your neck.
  4. Don't go back as far as you can go. Hold for 8 to 10 seconds.
  5. Do the same exercise towards each side, letting your head gently drop towards your shoulders.
  6. Hold each side for 8 to 10 seconds.

low back stretch diagram

Lower-Back Stretch

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you.
  2. Bend your right knee to 90 degrees, then move your right foot to the outside of your left knee, so that your right leg crosses over your left.
  3. Place your left elbow to the outside of your right knee and gently twist to the right.
  4. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.
  5. Repeat on the other side.
Abdominal stretch diagram

Abdominal Stretch

  1. Kneel on the floor with your back straight.
  2. Place your hands on your lower back and gently bend your upper body back. You should feel the stretch in your abdomen. Keep your abs engaged so as not to put stress on your lower back.
  3. Hold for 8 to 10 seconds. Repeat.

Lower-Body Stretches

Calf stretch diagram

Calf Stretch

  1. Stand about 1 or 2 feet away from a wall with your toes pointing straight ahead.
  2. Hold your hands against the wall and lean your body toward the wall at a 45-degree angle as you press your heels down toward the floor as shown.
  3. You should feel the stretch in your calf muscles.
  4. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
Ankle stretch diagram

Ankle Stretch

  1. Sit on a sturdy chair and lift your right leg as shown.
  2. Use your right hand to hold your ankle and your left hand to hold your heel.
  3. Use your left hand to pull your foot towards you. Hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Then, push your foot away and hold for 5 seconds.
  5. Finally, rotate your foot first clockwise a few times, then counterclockwise a few times.
  6. Switch sides and repeat on your other ankle.
Hamstring stretch diagram

Hamstring Stretc

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend at the hips (not the waist), letting your upper body hang.
  3. Reach your hands towards the floor until you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings.
  4. If needed, bend your knees slightly.
  5. If this stretch causes discomfort in your low back, keep your back straight and place your hands on your thighs.
  6. For a deeper stretch, place your palms flat on the ground.
  7. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
Quad stretch diagram

Anterior-Thigh (Quads) Stretch

  1. Balancing yourself with your left hand on the wall, take hold of your right foot or ankle and bring it behind you.
  2. Keep your left knee pointing down and your rear end tucked and not sticking out.
  3. Bring your heel as close to your buttock as possible without pain.
  4. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Buttockx stretch diagram

Buttocks Stretch

  1. Lie on your back and gently pull your right knee towards your chest.
  2. Keep your left leg straight.
  3. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Groin stretch diagram

Groin Stretch

  1. Sitting comfortably on the floor, touch the soles of your feet together.
  2. Take hold of your feet or ankles with your hands.
  3. Gently pull your upper body forward, bending at the waist.
  4. Try to keep your back straight.
  5. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.

 

Upper-Body Stretches

Chest stretch diagram

Chest Stretch

  1. Stand in a doorway facing perpendicular to the wall.
  2. Bend your arm to 90 degrees and place your forearm against the door jam.
  3. Rotate your body away from the door until you feel a stretch in your chest.
  4. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Upper Back stretch diagram

Upper-Back Stretch

  1. Extend your arms in front of you with your fingers interlaced and your palms facing forward.
  2. Push your hands forward while exhaling, allowing your back to arch slightly.
  3. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
Shoulder stretch diagram

Shoulder Stretch

  1. Place your left arm across the front of your body.
  2. Hook your right elbow in front of your left elbow.
  3. Pull slightly to the right while turning your head slightly to the left.
  4. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Deltoid stretch diagram

Deltoids Stretch

  1. With your hands behind your back, take hold of your right wrist with your left hand.
  2. Pull gently towards the left until you feel the stretch in the front of your shoulder.
  3. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Tricept stretch diagram

Triceps Stretch

  1. Lift your left arm straight overhead and then allow elbow to bend.
  2. Allow fingers to touch back between shoulder blades.
  3. Place your right hand across the top of your head and take hold of left elbow. Stand up straight and
  4. feel the stretch in left triceps.
  5. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Bicepts stretch diagram

Biceps Stretch

  1. Face away from wall and bend over.
  2. Place hands close together, palms on wall as high on wall as possible. Point fingers towards ceiling.
  3. Squat down slowly.
  4. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.

 

Tips and Resources

Yoga is a relaxing way to maintain flexibility and millions engage in this form of flexibility training.

If you sit at a desk all day, a lack of flexibility could lead to some serious back issues. There are plenty of simple stretches that you can do to increase your range of movement, including these at-your-desk stretches.

Golfers can benefit from these office exercises to improve their game.

Exercise like walking will strengthen your leg muscles, including the hamstrings and quadriceps. Keeping your hamstrings flexible is important to avoid straining your lower back. This stretch increases flexibility while protecting the spine.

We only use thirty percent of our muscles' true force on a daily basis. Exercise specialist Giles Wily shares the principles of flexibility in this interview excerpt.

For more information on flexibility and for sample routines, see Chapter 14 of Transcend.

 

0 Comments | Posted in Exercise By Eric Huang

Exercise Blog - Strength Training

Monday, May 9, 2011 10:23:22 PM America/New_York

Few enough people perform aerobic exercise regularly, but even fewer engage in regular strength training. Among individuals over 65, which is the group that needs to maintain their muscle mass the most, only 12 percent perform regular strength training. People who don't do this type of exercise will lose as much as 40 percent of their muscle mass between 20 and 80 years of age.

Exercise diagrams
Click on the diagrams below to learn more.

Benefits -While the primary benefit of aerobic exercise is keeping your cardiovascular system healthy, strength training can help:

  • Increase anabolic hormone levels
  • Counteract the natural tendency of your muscles to shrink with age
  • Make you feel better, look better and age better
  • Increase muscle mass
  • Strengthen ligaments and tendons
  • Protect joints from arthritis
  • Increase bone mass, reducing the risk of osteoporosis
  • Allow you to eat more and weigh less

Strength Training Routines - Strength training can be performed using weight machines or free weights. You can also use you own body weight for resistance training. For sample exercises and illustrations, see Chapter 14 of Transcend.

  • Perform targeted exercises for the upper body, lower body, and core muscles
  • Consciously squeeze the working muscle with every repetition
  • Exhale during the exertion part of the exercise and inhale on the release
  • Maintain good form
  • Do not work the same muscle groups two days in a row
  • Warm up for 5 minutes before your workout
  • Stretch the muscles you used after your workout

Upper-Body Exercises

Chest Press - Muscles worked: pecs, triceps

  1. Attach resistance band to door at chest height.
  2. Facing away from the door, place one handle in each hand, hands at shoulders, palms facing
    one another.
  3. Step away from the door so that your arms feel some tension as you begin.
  4. Engage your abdominal muscles and press arms out in front of you straight away from
    chest. Keep wrists straight and palms facing one another and keep arms at shoulder height.
  5. Hold for 2 seconds and return slowly to start position.
  6. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.

Triceps Kickback -Muscles worked: triceps

  1. Starting with right arm at side, step on band with right foot at a point to create tension.
  2. Step forward with left foot, lean body forward slightly, keeping your back straight, and place your left hand on thigh for balance. Pull abs in. Hold tube in hand with elbow bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your elbow in the same spot throughout the exercise.
  3. Extend forearm behind you, keeping your elbow still as you pass your hip in a fluid motion.
  4. Squeeze back of upper arm as you hold at the top for 2 seconds, and then return slowly to the starting position.
  5. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.
  6. Do the same with your other arm.

Overhead Press - Muscles worked: lats, delts, and triceps

  1. Holding band with both hands, step on band with one foot (feet are parallel).
  2. Bring hands to shoulder height with palms facing forward, making a goal post position.
  3. Completely extend hands above head, hold for 2 seconds, then return slowly to goal post position.
  4. For even more intensity, stand on band with feet shoulder-width apart.
  5. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.
  6. Caution: Individuals over 50 years of age should perform this exercise with caution and with less than maximum resistance to avoid shoulder injuries. If you feel any discomfort while performing this exercise, exclude it from your routine or try doing one arm at a time.

Upright Row - Muscles worked: delts

  1. Holding band with both hands, step on band with one foot (feet are parallel).
  2. Starting with arms fully extended, palms facing towards body, bring hands to just below the chin, extending elbows out, but not higher than shoulders. Hold for 2 seconds and slowly return to start position.
  3. For even more intensity, stand on band with both feet shoulder-width apart.
  4. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.

Bent-Over One-Arm Row - Muscles worked: traps and shoulders

  1. Starting with right arm at side, step on tube with right foot at a point to create tension. Take a slight step forward with your left foot.
  2. Lean body forward slightly, keeping your back straight and right arm extended. Place your left hand on thigh for balance. Pull abs in.
  3. Pull your elbow back until your hand is at your rib cage. Hold for 2 seconds and return slowly to start position. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.
  4. Do the same with your other arm.

Biceps Curl - Muscles worked: biceps

  1. Holding tube with both hands, step on tube with one foot (feet are parallel). To increase tension, stand on tube with both feet, either together or up to shoulder-width apart.
  2. Starting with arms fully extended at your sides, palms facing back, pull up on tube while rotating your hands up towards the ceiling, elbows glued to your side. Without bending your wrists, bring hands up to your shoulder. Hold for 2 seconds, release and slowly return to starting position.
  3. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.

Upon completion of your series of upper-body resistance exercises, you will do the six upper-body stretches

 

Lower-Body Exercises

You will perform four exercises designed to train the major muscles of the lower body: front of thigh (quads), back of thigh (hamstrings), rear end (glutes), outer thigh (hip abductors), and inner thigh (hip adductors). You will need an ankle tube with ankle strap and door clip, and a sturdy chair. You will attach the ankle strap to your right ankle, complete all four exercises on the right side, then switch the ankle strap to your left side and repeat.

Seated Leg Extension - Muscles worked: quads

  1. Set up clip tube in door at ankle height, place chair facing away from door.
  2. Sit on chair, attach ankle cuff to left ankle, with clip at back of ankle.
  3. Sitting up straight, engage abdominals, plant both feet firmly on the ground, extend leg until it is parallel to floor, hold for 2 seconds, and slowly release.
  4. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.
  5. Move chair away from the door to increase tension as your strength improves.

Standing Leg Curl - Muscles worked: hamstrings

  1. Stand up and face the door. Ankle clip will be towards the door. Pull abs in.
  2. Move chair to your right side so you can use it for balance.
  3. Keeping your upper body still and upright, bend your knee to 90 degrees, keeping your thigh stationary. Keep knee pointing down. Hold for 2 seconds.
  4. Allow your leg to return slowly to starting position.
  5. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.

Inner-Thigh Lift - Muscles worked: hip adductors

  1. Face sideways with attached ankle closest to the door and clip towards door.
  2. Move chair so that your leg can move freely in front of your body.
  3. Hold on to the back of the chair for balance.
  4. Move leg across the front of your body, bringing the heel of the leg you are working to your opposite toe (or beyond). Hold for 2 seconds and slowly release.
  5. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.
  6. After completing the series of exercises with your right leg, attach the ankle tube to your left leg and repeat the entire series. Upon completion of both sides of the lower-body resistance

Outer-Thigh Lift - Muscles worked: glutes, hip abductors

  1. Stand perpendicular to the door with attached ankle farthest from the door and clip pointing towards the door.
  2. Move chair so that it is in front of you.
  3. Slowly, move your ankle in an arc away from the door, hold for 2 seconds, then let it return to starting position.
  4. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.

Upon completion of both sides of the lower-body resistance exercises, you will do the lower-body stretches

 

Core-Body Exercises

A strong core is central to linking upper and lower body. Most of your movement, such as walking, bending, and lifting, is powered by the core musculature - the muscles of the abdomen, back, and pelvis. As you get stronger in your arms and legs, it is critical to have a powerful core to assist in your exercise and other activities of daily life. Although ignored for many
years, core strengthening has come to occupy - appropriately enough - a central role in most fitness programs. Benefits of a strong core include:

• Reduced risk of injury (particularly low back)
• Improved ability to perform daily activities
• Better performance in all sporting activity
• Reduction in back pain
• Improved posture

Guidelines for Core Exercises

The two exercises you will do to strengthen your core are abdominal crunches and the side plank. In addition, Pilates exercises (not described here) are very effective for core strengthening and can be added to your program if desired. It is important while doing any abdominal exercise to pull your belly inward (like you're trying to suck your belly in to fit into a tight pair of jeans) during the exhalation phase of each exercise.

Abdominal Crunches

  1. Lie with your back flat on the floor, knees bent at a right angle with your feet on a chair or on a wall. Place your hands gently behind your head.
  2. Exhale while pulling belly in and do a situp to 45 degrees, then return to the floor and inhale.
  3. Try to keep your abs tight throughout, but do NOT hold your breath.
  4. Shoulders should touch the floor at the end of each rep, but not necessarily your head.
  5. Work up to 30 to 60 reps or more.

Side Plank

  1. Lie on your right side with your upper body supported by your right arm, as shown in the photograph.
  2. Keeping your left hand in front of you for support, exhale, and lift your body until you are in a straight line.
  3. Tighten your abs, continue to breathe, and hold 10 to 60 seconds. Do not let your hips sag.
  4. You can keep your left hand in front of you or place it on your hip.
  5. Repeat 8 to 12 times on the right side, then roll over and repeat on the left side.

 

TIPS AND RESOURCES

These abdominal exercises help strengthen your core muscles.

Mix it up and try some of these seven different types of pushups.

Try this Travelers Workout Routine for a convenient session away from home. The entire routine can be done without any equipment besides a chair and a phonebook.

Strength training is important to health maintenance, no matter what age you begin. To learn more about adding strength training to your routine, take a look at the CDC's program: Growing Stronger: Strength Training for Older Adults.

This site offers exercises to eliminate lower back pain as well as tips to help women get over the hesitancy to lift weights and increase their muscle - one way to pursue overall fitness.

One of the best leg exercises you can do is the squat, but make sure you know the correct form to protect your knees and back.

0 Comments | Posted in Exercise By Eric Huang

Exercise Blog - Aerobic Exercise

Monday, May 9, 2011 10:22:14 PM America/New_York

Virtually every tissue in your body benefits from this type of exercise. Aerobic exercise is especially beneficial to get rid of abdominal fat and is also one of the best ways to increase your natural supply of endorphins Read More
1 Comments | Posted in Exercise By Eric Huang

Exercise Blog - Live 10 Years Longer w/ Exercise

Monday, May 9, 2011 10:21:24 PM America/New_York

Live 10 years Longer with Exercise

Exercise has been associated with a lower incidence of cancer, while a sedentary lifestyle increases cancer risk. Maintaining an active lifestyle in conjunction with eating healthy foods helps keep your energy levels up. Fitness encourages healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and joint function, as well as maintenance of optimal weight. Best of all, exercise can help you live longer.

One of the theories for why we age relates to the length of the telomeres on the ends of our chromosomes. Telomeres are highly repetitive sequences of DNA at the ends of chromosomes that keep the double strands of DNA from unraveling. They can be likened to the plastic tips on the ends of your shoelaces that prevent them from becoming frayed. Each time a cell replicates, one of the telomere "beads" (repeated DNA sequences) drops off. When all of the telomeres have dropped off, the cell can no longer replicate and dies.

A recent study from King’s College in London compared telomere length in a group of 2400 twins. The mean difference in telomere length between the most and least physically active people was 200 nucleotides. This meant the most active subjects had the telomere length of people 10 years younger. The least active people only got 16 minutes of exercise a week, while the most active about 200 minutes. Three hours of exercise a week translated into the reversal of 10 years of aging – at least as far as telomere length is concerned. The preservation of your telomeres is just one in a long list of benefits from exercise.

Ray & Terry recommend three types of exercise: aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility training. Chapter 14 of Transcend describes a comprehensive fitness program incorporating all three types of exercise that you can personalize for your age and fitness level.

See diagrams and read more on excercise: Aerobic, Strength, Flexibility

0 Comments | Posted in Exercise By Eric Huang