This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Flexibility is about more than touching your toes!

Being flexible is an important part of overall health

When I workout I like to just hit the gym, burn as many calories as possible, lift as much weight as possible to keep my metabolism revved, and get out.  The last thing on my mind is slowing down, stretching, doing some yoga postures, and gaining flexibility.  Is that how you feel too?  I used to do yoga all the time as my primary form of exercise but when I gained 20 pounds after moving to Massachusetts and spending 9 months sitting on the couch, I realized it was going to take a lot more than yoga to get my body back.  I turned to cardio and weight training because I could see results fast when sweat was dripping off my body.   Besides the yoga classes at my gym are held at inconvenient times and mostly frequented by the Silver Sneakers group (read: old people).  I kind of forgot about flexibility.

A recent muscle injury followed by a toe injury (really?  A toe injury??) forced me to look for alternative ways to workout.   First I turned to Pilates because after all Joseph Pilates promises that in 30 sessions you'll have a brand new body and who am I to argue with having a new body?  Then, just for something different, I put in a yoga DVD.  Wow have I lost flexibility! 

After doing yoga for a few days I remembered why I used to practice: it feels good to be flexible.  In fact there are so many reasons to gain flexibility that I can't believe I ever stopped working on it.   Increasing flexibility greatly decreases the risk of injury (perhaps the toe injury could have been avoided??).  Increasing flexibility increases blood flow to muscles and connective tissues.  It gives the appearance of a longer, leaner body.  Flexibility improves posture and reduces stress on joints.  People who are flexible heal from injuries more quickly, don't have as much muscle soreness after working out, and have more endurance during aerobic and strength training exercises.

Did I mention the appearance of a longer, leaner body?  If there were no other benefits this, for me, would be enough.  I am not tall and the tendency toward stocky-ness (okay, squat-ness) is built into my DNA.  With my natural hairy-ness if I had poor posture and didn't wax for a month I'd be a dead ringer for a chimpanzee  - but not if I practice flexibility training!
This is not the look I want for summer

So I'm back to incorporating yoga into my fitness training.  I don't really want to have to fit in one more thing.  I don't really want to have to add more time to working out.  I don't really want to do yoga while in sweaty spandex, nor do I want to have to change clothes between workouts. 

But I really don't want to look like a chimpanzee.  Even a hairless one.


Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle said...

After spending all day Saturday gardening, I was so stiff the next day. I think the reason so many seniors are participating in those yoga classes at your gym is that we lose that flexibility as we age. If I don't stretch for at least 10 minutes after every workout, I'm feeling as stiff as a board the next day.

It is tempting to head home when you're all sweaty, but it does beat the feeling that I can't bend my joints the next day. Besides, I love chimps, but I don't want to look like one!

Anonymous said...

well you just go girl...incorporate all you can. So if I would just act on all these good tips.