Fitness Simply

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I stretch to the left and stretch to the right . . .

7:00 am: Max the cat nudges my hand: “Wake up Foodface, get your lazy buns outta bed.” I consciously breathe, focusing on my inhales and exhales. I breathe for one full minute and fall back to sleep.

7:05 am: Max wins! As I roll out of bed, I pull in my abs and slowly roll up to stand, squeezing my buns for good measure.

7:06 am: I wash my face, dry,  and then . . . take my hand towel overhead, pulling it tautly. I stretch to the left and stretch to the right. Continue reading

Animal Intelligence

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Have you ever noticed how animals keep fit? My cat Max is in great shape. When he gets up from a nap, he automatically stretches. When he needs to get his ya-yas out, he chases dust bunnies. And he’s certainly strong enough to pounce up his cat tree. He gives his body what it needs, when it needs it. No grueling gym workouts necessary . . .

Let Go and Get Long

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Back in the day when I taught “go for the burn” aerobics, some students would leave class before the final stretch. Later I’d ask why they had left and they’d say, “well, I mainly want to burn calories” or “stretching is boring . . .”

Picture ballet dancers and their beautiful bodies. Those long, lean muscles are achieved through both lengthening and strengthening exercises. Dancers spend hours stretching.

One of the great things about stretching is that you can truly do it while you’re doing other things, like watching TV or reading.

Have a seat on the floor. Sit with your legs extended in front of you and lean forward over your legs. Your muscles become more flexible as they warm up. Take time to hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds, breathing deep and easy. Don’t force the stretch. Just let go and get long.

Floss Out the Kinks

Multi-tasking at its best!

These traditional neck rolls feel so good, especially if you tend to feel tension in your neck and shoulders, and can be done any time, anywhere…even while completing your morning/evening routine.

Equipment: floss

Position: Standing in front of mirror, ready, set, floss!

Simple exercise: While flossing (or not), lean your head to your right shoulder and feel a stretch along the left side of your neck, drop your chin forward making a half circle to the left side — pause — lean your head to your left and feel a stretch along the right side of your neck. Repeat by dropping your head back through center from side to side as needed.

Benefits: Stretches and releases neck muscles.

Have fun, get creative, and share your ideas . . .

Forced Breathing

Another way to relax and restore natural breathing patterns is to practice forced breathing. Forced breathing involves consciously squeezing more air out of your lungs by using the muscles between your ribs.

Take a deep breath in through your nose — let it out through your mouth — and as you let it out, squeeze out more air, and more air, and more air, and even more air . . . squeeze it all out! Use your whole belly to continue to press out more air. Then, inhale.

Continue several rounds of forced breathing.

Neck Nirvana

I spent last week in NYC walking and carrying a heavy handbag, which made for a tight neck and tense shoulders. So while in Chinatown, I got a fabulous quickie neck massage.  Here’s a fun, easy way to fit in a neck stretch — all you need is a small hand towel.

Stiff neck . . . no more!

Equipment: hand or dish towel

Position: Standing or sitting, hold on both ends of the towel with your hands, placing the middle of the towel behind the back of your head.

Simple exercise: Use the towel to guide your head forward, tucking your chin to your chest and gently tugging forward for a deeper stretch.

Benefits: stretches your neck muscles.

Have fun, get creative, and share your ideas . . .