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Be Strong, Be Flexible

By Jill Healy - Quintard | In Exercise, YogaPilates Fusion | on April 2, 2019

Be Strong, Stay Strong, Be Flexible, Stay Flexible.

“You are only as young as your spine is flexible.” Said Joseph Pilates

Did you know that movement and flexibility exercises are the one way to stay strong and flexible in body and mind?  .

Keeping the spine moving and flexible and then adding breath with exercise will oxygenate the brain, producing a mind/body balance result.

It is important to remain strong and flexible as we age, which means if you have not begun to incorporate flexibility, strength and breath into you daily life then now is the time to begin, not wait until you are already feeling tight and inflexible, although flexibility can be gained even at an older age with specific exercise prescription for the individual.

If flexibility is not addressed, chances of injury increase and balance is affected, leading to falls, broken bones and loss of muscle tone. This means maintaining and building muscle, increasing or maintaining flexibility and strengthening your core and your bones. This is now increasingly important from your 40’s and beyond, especially if (like most of us) you have a job using a computer at a desk at your workplace or even work from home that involves long hours with not much movement, even if you are lucky enough to have a standing desk. Maintaining spinal movement does help……”You are only as young as your spine is flexible” as Joseph Pilates said. Flexibility is sadly disappearing at a greater rate than ever and at a younger age, as observed now with school age children who spend longer hours sitting, using computers and mobile devices. School fitness and wellness programs are having to address this more than ever.

Exercise is one way to maintain spinal flexibility plus muscle strength. Regular exercise, as proven in studies, helps preserve bone mass and flexibility. Pilates and Yoga are high on the list of providing both of these aspects in a program, and by adding specific breath, balance, stretch and strength along with cardio and a calming relax, bone mass will be preserved and flexibility along with muscle mass will increase and brain health benefits occur as well.

It is recommended that weight bearing exercise is the most beneficial, which means that it’s done on your feet so you bear your own weight, and involve progressive resistance and movement, so it becomes more challenging over time. Adding hand-weights to the mix starting at .5kg and gradually increasing to 1kg and then 2kg will have a 2 fold result in building muscles mass and stronger bones. An overall exercise to address increasing muscles mass is the squat (as pictured) with small hand-weights and while in a squat add a spine twist and all bases are covered.

An exercise done at a desk (standing or sitting) is the Spine Twist. Place your right hand on your knee or arm of a chair, place your left arm behind and look over your left shoulder moving your spine to get there, not only the head and repeat to your right for 3 repetitions each side. The added benefit of this particular exercise is the gentle internal organ massage that you also provide. As you turn to your left you massage your spleen and to the right you massage your liver. This is excellent when you may have overindulged in food or alcohol or at celebration times any time of the year.

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