Monthly Archives: February 2013

Fitness Benefits of Yoga

Everyone has heard of yoga, and most people have a sense of what it is.  Whether you’re a yoga fanatic or someone who hasn’t ever thought about giving it a try, this type of workout can be a great compliment to your current routine.  Yoga has been practiced for over 5,000 years, and with the ultimate goal of uniting body, mind and spirit, it’s a great addition for runners, golfers and anyone else who spends a little time getting fit.

Yoga improves flexibility by working through a series of poses to safely stretch muscles and soft tissues.  Better flexibility decreases lower back pain and prevents post workout stiffness.  Flexibility will also give your body more power through a larger range of motion, generating more power in a golf swing and more fluid hip movement for runners.  The muscle balance demanded by yoga will also lead to improved club control for golfers, and for runners, yoga helps maintain body alignment and reduce the risk of injury.

Yoga requires deep, controlled, mindful breathing, and in turn creates a relaxation response from the body.  This relaxing effect has been shown to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with depression, help insomniacs fall asleep faster and improve mood states.  Improved breath control gives golfers a better swing rhythm, and benefits are seen when pregnant women practice prenatal yoga because it helps with breath control and pain management during labor and delivery.  Practicing power yoga in a heated room can, in itself, be a tough aerobic workout for any one.

It’s important to be aware of the risks of yoga as well.  Though it may sound nice and easy, it is possible to hurt yourself by overstretching and straining to reach that next pose.  People with severe osteoporosis, who are pregnant or have spinal problems should be aware of this increased risk and discuss their yoga training with a physician.  Warming up, staying hydrated, dressing properly and listening to your body are just as important when doing yoga as they are when going for a run or any kind of weight lifting workout, so take it seriously!

The best way to learn about yoga is to get out there and try a class!  You might not fall in love with the first style you try, so give each type a shot.  Find a studio near you, make sure you have a qualified instructor and take a friend.  For help finding and instructor or studio near you, contact us at Info@FitNicePT.com.

Stretching for Golf

Golfers are a notorious bunch.  They just want get out there and go, and it often costs them a few strokes on the first two or three holes.  It’s important to stretch before you tee off for several reasons.  Stretching will loosen muscles and make your swing more fluid, increasing distance and accuracy while also lowering the risk of injury, especially to the lower back.  First of all, it is important to know the limitations of your body.  Get a routine from a professional and make sure your doctor has OKed it.  Increase your body temperature before you stretch to make it more effective because warm muscles are more responsive.  Stretching also helps cool you down after 18 and prevents soreness while providing a relaxing wind down.  Try stretching with a partner so you can keep an eye on each other’s form, being sure to stretch only one muscle group at a time, but also to offer encouragement.

Here are some great pre-golf stretches:

Knee to chest (Lower Back and Glutes):  Lie on your back with your body extended.  Bend one knee and bring your foot to your behind, holding the thigh behind your flexed knee.  Hold for 10 to 20 seconds, taking deep breaths and repeating on each side twice.

Hamstring stretch (Hamstrings):  From a lying position with extended legs, raise your left leg, holding the thigh with both hands and keeping the knee extended.  Slowly pull your leg to your chest, exhaling deeply.  Repeat on both sides for 10 to 30 seconds twice.

Figure Four (Hips and Glutes):  Lying on your back, bring both knee to a 90-degree bend.  Cross your right ankle so it rests on your left knee and use your right hand to push gently away from your chest until you feel a stretch in your hips and glutes.  Hold for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat twice with each leg.

Calf Stretch (Gastroc and Achilles tendon):  Standing upright, place your hands on a wall, fence or other sturdy, flat vertical surface.  Bring your left leg forward, keeping the right leg straight and lean into the wall, bending your elbows.  Repeat twice on both sides for 10 to 30 seconds.

Quadriceps Stretch (Quadriceps):  Stand with one hand on a wall or other type of support and exhale as you raise your right leg to grasp the ankle with your right hand.  Gently pull your right heel towards your buttocks.  Hold for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat twice on each side.

Chest Stretch (Upper chest):  Using a doorframe or other flat vertical surface, bend your left elbow to a 90-degree angle.  With your forearm pointing straight up, place your elbow against the wall and, with a nice big exhale, lean your whole body forward.  If you are in a doorframe, you can do both sides at the same time, exhaling and holding for 10 to 30 seconds, repeating twice.

With a little warm up and these stretches, you’ll feel better on the first hole of every round.  For more information, or a customized golf stretching program, contact us at Info@FitNicePT.com!

Youth Fitness for Summer

It’s only February, and everyone is preparing for Spring Break, but remember, planning is paramount to having a successful June, July and August, too.  It can be hard to keep kids active, with video games, busy parent schedules, and boredom fighting against it during the long summer vacation.  With school sports teams and independent soccer, lacrosse, and baseball leagues keep them busy during the school year, kids tend to be more active from September to May.  The break from early mornings and homework at the end of June are a welcome reprieve for children, but all the new free time can lead to the development of some bad habits.  Guidelines suggest 60 minutes of physical activity each day, and to make sure your child stays active and continues to eat right, here are a few suggestions for a healthy summer.

Camps and youth fitness classes are offered at gyms and YMCAs for a variety of price points and schedules with everything from hourly classes to six week overnight adventures.  Find one that works for your wallet and your schedule then get signed up.  Camps provide physical, educational and social activities, which keeps brains working all year long.  They are also a safe environment with proper supervision and can help parents rest assured their family isn’t going to get into trouble.

Try to exercise as a family.  With lots of sunlight during long summer days, take an after dinner walk together or have dinner a little later and head out for a bike ride beforehand.  Taking adventure vacations can be a great way to get your child interested in hiking, mountain biking or swimming and bond as a family.  This time of year is good opportunity to start a new habit that everyone can be excited about continuing then school starts again, too.

Writing a list of favorite activities and posting it somewhere easy to see will give children a bank of ideas that doesn’t include TV or an iPad, and having the right equipment nearby will make it even easier for them to get up and move around.  Keep a jump rope, hula hoop and basketball handy at home and plan your days.   Planning each day will also help keep kids active by putting time limits on sedentary activities and helping them get out the door.  Schedule time to read and do other educational activities as well.  Kids who exercise get more oxygen to their brain and better mood states than those who don’t, so take advantage of the increase brain power and keep kids learning.

The most important thing to remember is that children are best led by a great example.  It’s important that Mom, Dad and siblings make healthy, active choices too.  For tips on Youth Fitness or to get your family started on a Summer Fitness Program, contact us at Info@FitNicePT.com!