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Health and Wellbeing - Dec 14 - Jan 15

02 Dec 2014

Stretching

Muscles and the mind hold tension.

Working out is a great way to sweat, tone the body and release stress. But unless you are stretching effectively and regularly, your muscles can become stiff and tense. The build-up of this tension over time can lead to seeking the service of a masseur or physio. While this is effective and reasonable, there is more you can do along the way to moderate these visits and improve your overall wellbeing.

After every work out do you stretch out your whole body? How much stretching should you do? What stretches are most effective? How long should you hold them for?

A great start is to build in a 1:5 ratio of stretching to activity. In other words, if you just completed a 30 minute high-intensity workout then you should stretch for a further five - six minutes.

Stretching should be relative to muscles worked, but should always incorporate mobility exercises for the neck and spine. Tight hip and gluteal muscles can lead to lower back pain. Tight neck and shoulder muscles can lead to headaches so make sure these areas are a special focus.

Stretches are normally held for 30-60 seconds while maintaining regular breathing patterns. (Don’t hold your breath.)

 

Meditation

While the practice of mediation is often attached to religion and spirituality, the occurrence of and access to non-spiritual meditation is becoming more common. Many modern companies create pathways and opportunities to experience and benefit from meditation, relaxation and breathing programs as they improve performance.

Meditation involves clearing the mind of distractions, while focusing attention onto an object, subject or process – for example your breathing. You can meditate as part of a group or it can be a practice that you cultivate in your own private time.

Meditation has the following benefits:

  • Physical
  • Reduces high blood pressure;
  • Improves sleep and helps reduce tension related headaches;
  • Increases the production of serotonin – the happy hormone; and
  • Increased energy levels.
  • Mental
  • Reduces tension and anxiety;
  • Improves focus and mindfulness;
  • Sharpens the mind; and
  • Increases awareness and happiness.

You can find more about available meditation programs from your doctor, psychologist, health and wellness centre or yoga centre. Try and make meditation part of your physical and mental activity plan for 2015.

 

Aquatic activities

As the weather warms up, there is no better place to cool off than in the water. Health and fitness authorities recommend we all exercise 30 minutes per day, every day.

Exercising, especially outdoors can become more challenging as the weather heats up as we need to consider external factors like hydration, overheating, sunburn and heat stroke.

Aquatic exercise can be a great substitute or addition to your exercise program during the warmer months.

If you are competitive and able, there are some great swimming competitions and activities over summer to consider like the Portsea Swim, the Pier to Pub in Lorne and the YMCA Swimathon (in March).

By locking yourself into such events, you can build a great training plan that keeps you active and motivated leading up to the big day.

Swimming aside, aquatic exercises and workouts have many great benefits:

  • Low impact – soft on joints, bones and great for rehabilitation and sufferers of arthritis;
  • Increased resistance – movement through water is harder than moving through air – try some hydro walks, jogs and runs as intervals to increase intensity. Also great fun at the beach;
  • Mobility – We can all benefit from improved mobility. The body is supported in water so the risk of injury is reduced; and
  • Cooling – the body doesn’t overheat as readily as it is cooled by the water.

If you plan to get active outdoors in the water, make sure you are “Sun Smart”.

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