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Tips for Flexibility Training

We're all in a hurry, and we want to accomplish our physical fitness goals without taking too much time from other things.

Beauty Tips Girl Friday

But too many people skip straight to the cardio workout without doing any stretching first, causing themselves muscle strains, sprains, achy joints and other injuries. Getting hurt doing exercise routines sets you back, because you have to take time off from exercising in order to recuperate. So, if you're tempted not to stretch before your workout, ask yourself, "Do I take three minutes today, or three months tomorrow?"

Physical fitness is more than weight loss, endurance and looking great in

your gym wardrobe. Starting an aerobics program without warming up is just asking for trouble, since the workout includes stepping, kicking, twisting and any number of movements that require warm, loose muscles.

Cardiovascular training also requires a good warmup; get the air flowing, the muscles soft and ready to work, and let your muscles get the oxygen they need to work properly. Stretching before any workout makes sense; stretching after any workout also helps prevent muscle pain or cramps, eases your heart rate back to its normal resting beat and lets your body cool down slowly.

The importance of flexibility is often underplayed by fitness experts more anxious to talk about the sexy aspects of exercise; you don't get much information on flexibility. But it's a vital part of strength; too many people bend over to pick something up and then realize they haven't the strength to straighten up again. Weak abdominal muscles and tight, rigid muscles and tendons can create back strain under the simplest of movements. Increasing your flexibility makes you stronger and more capable of exercising harder without getting injured.

Before you exercise, begin with slow, gentle stretches for the entire body. Roll your head from side to side to loosen neck muscles; roll shoulders forward and back to get the tightness out of them; gently stretch your hands, arms and legs, and circle wrists and ankles. Don't begin a workout until the muscles in your body feel warm, loose and pliable. Post workout, repeat stretches, especially for the muscles you worked during the exercise program. You don’t need fancy techniques for a decent warm up and cool down, but you do need patience; take the time you need to give your body a good, slow stretch.

If you have problems with flexibility in everyday life, consider an exercise program based on stretching. Yoga is a wonderful way to increase your flexibility and build strength; as your muscles become more toned, you will also burn fat more efficiently. Pilates is another flexibility-centered workout that combines a variety of crunches, leg lifts and ab work for core strengthening. Pilates focuses on creating muscles that are long and lean—like dancers'. To improve stability, Pilates classes may work with resistance bands or a stability ball, training hundreds of tiny muscles that work together to increase balance.

We're all looking for quick, noticeable results, but health programs are all about staying healthy throughout the lifespan. Flexibility training isn't emphasized at many gyms, but many injuries occur because of inadequate flexibility, and as people age, injuries related to falls and broken bones can be prevented if their balance and flexibility are improved. Aches in joints can be diminished with slow, gentle stretching. The whole body is affected and the mind soothed by exercises designed to loosen tight muscles.

How to improve flexibility is no secret; practice it! Stretch before and after workouts, while watching TV, or take up a program based on flexibility to improve strength and balance.

Continue reading the next aerobics article on posture-exercise

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