Category Archives: stretching

Stretch for Better Flexibility

I love this post! I hope you will read it and learn from it too. The more I read and write about health and fitness, the more I appreciate that ‘little things mean a lot.’ Little things like stretching, getting a good night’s sleep and walking, not living a sedentary lifestyle. These are elements that can keep you in tip top shape, mentally and physically for years to come.

To read further on some of these little things, Check out my Pages:

Do you know the dangers of too much sitting?

How important is a good night’s sleep?

Why you should walk more

Tony

Training For Life

This article was first published in The Hindu on 2nd October 2010.

unnamedI see people completing their workout routines and rushing through a few cursory stretches; mainly to appease the trainer, mind elsewhere, in a hurry to get going. Their flexibility does not get any better; they can still barely bend forward to reach for their thighs leave alone their toes, but they see no reason to waste time toiling with “stretches’. They have more important things to do, their cardio, so they can burn an indecent number of calories, push as much weight as they can to gain that well sculpted physique. Flexibility? Yes, well, let’s be done with it as quickly as possible!

One couldn’t be more mistaken. An inflexible muscle is more prone to injury and cannot perform as well as it should. Good quality muscle is supple, strong AND flexible.

unspecified-2Flexibility is the corner stone of…

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Some Good Leg Stretches for Cyclists

Here is a post I wrote a while back for another blog I do. Thought you cyclists and/or runners might be interested.

Quad-stretch

Tony

Willing Wheeling

I ride my bicycle nearly every day here in Chicago. Last year I averaged just over 17 miles per day for a total of 6350 miles. So far this  year, I am over 7500 miles in the first week of December.

In a four season city like Chicago, I am not always able to ride at all, so I end up with some longer rides to compensate.

As every rider knows, your legs can get stiff after a while.  I have found three wonderful stretches that do a super job of rejuvenating my legs. I usually do them after ten miles or so. That way the muscles are warmed up and I have good circulation.

There are pictures of each stretch, but I want to explain how I do them as that makes a difference. I do yoga for years and when I stretch, I always do the diaphragmatic breathing…

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What are Two Good Yoga Stretches for Cyclists?

I ride my bicycle virtually every day here in Chicago. Last year I averaged just over 17 miles per day for all 365 days for a total of 6350 miles for the year.

As you can imagine in a four season city like Chicago, I am not always able to ride at all, so I end up with some longer rides to compensate.

As a senior citizen riding the bike every day can sometimes stiffen up my leg muscles. I have found two wonderful stretches that do a super job of rejuvenating my legs on long rides. I usually do them after about ten miles so the muscles are warmed up. Every time I do them, I can always feel the energy flow back into my legs when I finish.

I have pictures of each stretch, but I want to explain how I do them as that makes the difference. I did yoga for years and when I stretch, I always do diaphragmatic breathing which sends lots of oxygen-rich cells down to the aching muscles.
For the first bent-knee, extended leg stretch, please do it as follows. The picture in this case isn’t perfect. Try to create a straight line from the bottom of your stretched out leg to the top of your head. Don’t bend your body and lay your head down as the cyclist in the photo is doing. With your bent leg, make sure that the knee is perpendicular to the ground. That way you have all straight lines and right angles. Once you are in the stretch breathe in through the nose for a count to five, hold it, then release it through your mouth for a count of five. Do this four or five times and then release the position gently. Assume the same positive only with the legs reversed. If the right leg was stretched, now it will be the bent one. Repeat the breathing. Continue reading

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What is the Most Balanced Exercise Program?

The more I read and write about exercise, the more the element of balance becomes important. Exercise if crucial to our well being, but it is easy to overdo it, or use bad technique and set ourselves back with an injury. Heaven knows I have had biking injuries galore.  So what is the most balanced exercise program, let me count the options.

Among the possibilities, are walking, running, weight lifting, bicycling, yoga, tennis, kick-boxing to name a few.

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WebMD says that walking, weight lifting and yoga constitute the most balanced plan because there are “three different types of exercise: aerobic/cardio (walking), strength training (weight lifting), and flexibility training (yoga).

“All three are important. Aerobic or “cardio” (walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, tennis, basketball) boosts the strength of your heart and lungs; strength or “resistance” training (weight lifting, resistance band exercises, etc.) help to keep your muscles and bones strong, and help with balance and coordination; and flexibility exercises (yoga, stretching, tai chi) can improve your range of motion and reduce your risk for injury.”

You can take the WebMD test on Fitness Do’s and Dont’s at the link.

I really like their breakdown because I consider walking to be the Cinderella sister of exercises. Everyone does it to some extent, but very few people appreciate the benefits.

Here are some of my posts on walking.

Benefits of Walking and Cycling

Walking, not Sudoku for Seniors

National Walking Day – American Heart Association

Mall-Walking

Tony

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Filed under aerobics, aging, Exercise, stretching, tai chi, target zone, walking, warming up, Weight, weight-bearing exercise, weight-training, yoga

Is Cycling Past 70 Different Than Cycling Past 50?

I ran across this excellent discussion of senior cycling on RoadBikeRider.com. They have graciously permitted me to reprint it. See permission at end.

RBR Editor’s Note: Coach John Hughes copied me on a recent email exchange he had with Marty Hoganson, an RBR reader with whom he had ridden on tours in years gone by. Marty wondered what, if any, differences there are in terms of recovery, motivation, etc., between 50-somethings and 70-somethings. Both agreed to let me share the exchange with RBR readers. It provides a wealth of solid, useful information.

Marty Asked:
These days I live and ride in Yuma, Arizona. I am involved in our local bike club called Foothills Bicycle Club, which is primarily made up of retired folks – late-50s to mid-80s. Many strong riders in their 60s and 70s, for their ages — or any age, for that matter.

Now that I am older also I have taken some interest in your articles on cycling and aging. I was wondering how cycling over 70 relates to your articles on cycling over 50? I’m pretty sure they don’t necessarily relate well. I am arriving in that 70+ age group this year, and have been feeling the difference in recovery time and healing from injuries for quite a few years.

The plus 70 year old blogger riding with his dog on Northerly Island in Chicago.

The plus 70 year old blogger riding with his dog on Northerly Island in Chicago.

What used to take three days to recover from, while riding a tour, may now take longer than the tour lasts. Maybe months longer. I ride year-round and still ride pretty strong, but I’m also experiencing a loss of interest in doing long days. I still like to do long tours, but with shorter days. I’m wondering if the lack of desire or drive might be a major contributing factor in the loss of performance, or if the loss of performance leads to the lack of desire to train harder? Also, if the shorter days might lead to the longer recovery times? Continue reading

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Filed under aging, biking, blood pressure, cardio exercise, Exercise, general well-being, health, healthy living, heart, living longer, men's health, muscles, seniors, stretching, Weight

My Favorite Piece of Advice and Writing

Here is another list of good ideas for healthier and happier living. Consider this a companion piece to Regina’s Life Lesson’s from earlier this week. Also, the regular ideas that senior supermodel Oleda Baker shares with us.
BAB XX HIGH RES CHRIS 10 22 2010 THE ONE FINAL Oleda1meg

Aspirus Healthy Aging Service Line

One of my favorite pieces of writing, every time I read it, and its been many, it makes me smile. This was written my Mary Schmich and first published in the Chicago Tribune June 1, 1997. It’s been emailed, copied, repeated millions of times and even set to music. I hope you enjoy it too!                                      –Julie Luks, MD, Medical Director of Aspirus Senior Health

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of…

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Filed under aging, appreciation, brain, Exercise, happiness, healing, health, healthy living, living longer, Oleda Baker, stretching, Weight

12 Benefits of Physical Exercise

So nice to see someone else talking about the mental benefits of physical exercise!

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“We need to keep in mind that doing something is better than nothing, and doing more is better than less,” says Concordia professor Simon Bacon. “Even the smallest amount of activity is beneficial.”

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Filed under aerobics, body fat, brain, calories, cardio exercise, Exercise, relaxation, stress, stretching, Weight, weight-bearing exercise

Are There Immediate Benefits to Doing Yoga?

Judging from my own experience I would have to say the answer is yes to that question. Not long ago I started doing yoga and wrote about it for the blog. It has probably been 10 years since I have done any yoga seriously; I didn’t have any grandiose expectations. I am a senior citizen now, so my yoga experiences from my 30s and 40s might have little bearing on my present aging body. Also, I started with long range goals. I wanted to build up my strength and flexibility while keeping my ligaments and joints fresh through the various stretches and deep breathing.

The Sun Salutation postures

For the past three days I have done about an hour of yoga and relaxation every evening. In addition to that I do several sun salutations when I get up in the morning. The sun salutation is more functional than anything yogic. As you can see from the illustration, it includes a series of full body stretches. I think it is a way to get my body jump started after a night of sleep. I don’t follow it with a relaxation period, either.
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Filed under aging, back pain, biking, calories, seniors falling, stretching, Weight, yoga

Why Should I Do Yoga?

Almost 15 million Americans practice yoga. Yoga Journal

When I was in my 30’s I dated a woman who taught yoga and for two years I practiced it religiously with her. After we split up I continued my daily yoga for a long time. Somehow, in the midst of the trials and tribulations of my life, I scaled back on it and stopped practicing regularly. Nonetheless I continued to benefit from things I had learned from it, like diaphragmatic breathing. This wonderful tool has helped me to deal with stress all my life. Even now in retirement, I still use it although I feel far less stress than I did when I was a worker bee.

When I first started doing yoga, I was still a runner and one immediate benefit was that I didn’t turn my ankles as often, or at all. I don’t know if assuming the poses strengthened my ankles and legs or I simply achieved a better sense of balance, but I went from turning my ankles about once a week, to maybe twice a year. Also, in the years I did yoga, I had a really heightened awareness of my body that was very gratifying, hard to explain, but gratifying.

I find that now as a senior citizen, there are good reasons for me to resume my yoga practice. First, while I ride a bike daily and enjoy superb cardiovascular health, I don’t enjoy doing weight-bearing exercise very much. And, everyone needs to do that, too. It turns out yoga is weight-bearing exercise, but much more enjoyable (to me) than pumping iron. Second, I recently heard a talk on seniors falling which I wrote up here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, said, “Among older adults (those 65 or older), falls are the leading cause of injury death. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.”

Frankly, that scared me. People die in hospitals. I want to steer clear of them. So, increasing my strength and balance through yoga has become very much more appealing.

I also remember that wonderful feeling of exhilaration doing yoga. The release of each posture always made those particular muscles feel alive with energy. The controlled relaxation at the end of every session never failed to boost my spirits. I would like to return to those sensations. So, I have started doing yoga again.

But, what about you? Maybe you aren’t an old man who doesn’t want to fall and go to the hospital. Why should you do yoga?

Here is what the yogasite says about why you should do yoga.
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Filed under aging, back pain, Exercise, relaxation, stress, stretching, Weight, yoga

This is Active Aging Week

In the last week of September, older adults find plenty of interesting things to do and learn during Active Aging Week, The International Council on Active Aging’s (ICAA) annual health promotion event.

In senior centers and retirement communities, parks and health clubs, nature preserves and dance halls, Active Aging Week hosts provide many opportunities to choose an active life:

•    Healthy lifestyle presentations for diabetes, arthritis, depression and other conditions
•    Nutrition and lifestyles presentations
•    Brain fitness and healthy mental outlooks
•    Health and fitness assessments
•    Concerts, singalongs, dancing
•    Group exercise, strength training,Tai chi and yoga
•    Games and challenges
•    Strolls and walks
•    Health fairs, referrals, government programs
•    Free food, prizes, coupons, pedometers and t-shirts

As our regular readers appreciate we fully support this effort to engage seniors in healthy activities. Please see what events are available in your area.

Eat less; move more.

Tony

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Filed under aging, brain, Exercise, general well-being, men's health, stretching, walking, Weight

What are Two Good Yoga Stretches for Cyclists?

I ride my bicycle virtually every day here in Chicago. Last year I averaged just over 17 miles per day for all 365 days for a total of 6350 miles for the year.

As you can imagine in a four season city like Chicago, I am not always able to ride at all, so I end up taking some longer rides to compensate.

As a senior citizen riding the bike every day can sometimes stiffen up my leg muscles. I have found two wonderful stretches that do a super job of rejuvenating my legs on long rides. I usually do them after about ten miles so the muscles are warmed up at that point. Every time I do them, I can always feel the energy flowing back into my legs when I finish.

I have pictures of each stretch, but I want to explain how I do them as that makes a difference. I did yoga for years and when I stretch, I always do diaphragmatic breathing which sends lots of oxygen-rich cells down to the aching muscles.

For the first bent-knee, extended leg stretch, please do it as follows. The picture in this case isn’t perfect. Try to create a straight line from the bottom of his stretched out leg to the top of his head. Don’t bend your body and lay your head down as the cyclist in the photo is doing. With your bent leg, make sure that the knee is perpendicular to the ground. That way you have all straight lines and right angles. Once you are in the stretch breathe in through the nose for a count to five, hold it, then release it through your mouth for a count of five. Do this four or five times and then release the position gently. Assume the same position only with the legs reversed. If the right leg was stretched, now it will be the bent one. Repeat the breathing.

I find the second stretch to be very satisfying and also slightly more difficult. I don’t have the balance to do it as in the photo. I always put one hand against a wall to steady myself. Reach back with your right hand and lift your foot bending at the knee. Grasp your foot as close to the toe as possible as this elongates the muscle more. Now, again, stand at a right angle to the ground, don’t lean. Holding the wall, pull up gently with your hand till you feel a good stretch. It shouldn’t hurt, but you should feel a pleasant pull. With your body straight do the same diaphragmatic breathing as before with five counts on the inhalation through the nose and then five counts on the exhalation through the mouth. Do this four or five times and then release the foot and let it gradually lower to the ground. Don’t drop it. Repeat with the other foot.

After I do these, I can feel the energy surging in my legs again and find new impetus and strength to ride.

Obviously, you can use these if you are a runner, too.

If you run, or ride a bike and have any favorite stretches that work well for you, please feel free to share them here.

Eat less; move more; live longer.

Tony

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