Why should you care?
Ok, so you may not be that concerned about a tall posture, but if your goals include any desire to be healthy (have more energy, lose fat, live longer, experience less pain, increase strength, etc.), then having a holistic perspective to fitness would be your ideal formula.
What is a holistic perspective to fitness?
Being “fit” extends well beyond toned muscles and a flat belly. It includes 5 areas of focus that really contribute to a strong, well functioning body.
- Mobility – range of motion and flexibility
- Strength – lifting, pushing, and pulling
- Conditioning – interval exercises, sprints, jogs, circuit power moves
- Active Play – walking, dancing, hiking, bike riding, goofing off in the park
- Balance – single leg or single arm exercises
By focusing on one, you are more prone to injury OR are less likely to see profound results when it comes to overall fitness. By integrating ALL elements, you are more likely to feel stronger from the inside out. Now although you may think you can only accomplish this through a formal gym routine, you can actually achieve these areas of fitness in your own “back yard.” Here are a few examples to consider:
- A GROUP CLASS: Power yoga includes mobility, strength, conditioning, and balance. Add a 20 minute walk to your week and you hit all 5!
- AN AVERAGE DAY: A few morning and evening stretches (see samples below), doing yard work or cleaning the house, some sprints up and down the stairs, playing ball with your kids (or dogs) in the park, and practicing your single-leg balance skills when something drops on the floor, would be a great “not even trying” start to incorporating all 5.
- A GYM WORKOUT: Foam rolling and dynamic stretches, followed by a strength workout that includes single-leg and single-arm exercises, with a 10 minute sprint/walk session on the treadmill would hit 4 of the 5 pillars. Walk your dog, hike a local trail, or go out for a night of dancing later in the week, and you will be well on your way to targeting all 5.
Starting with Mobility
A great place to start, is with mobility exercises. Why? It requires NOTHING but yourself and maybe a free object that is sitting around the house. PLUS…you can do it right now…like get up right now and do this with me…right now.
As I myself work long hours at a desk, crafting great and fabulous things for Eat Life Whole, I do tend to get stiff myself. On a recent dog walk, I noticed that I’d spend endless moments watching my husky play off-leash while I stood and did absolutely NOTHING. While nothing is great (especially because my day is so packed), I really could be working on my mobility. Try these with me:
What you need: yourself and a rope (i.e. – dog leash, bathrobe string, tie, long kitchen towel, wound up jacket, electric extension cord…you get the picture)
Place the rope in each of your hands and spread them apart in front of you. Carefully rotate your arms to the front and back of your body, leaving your elbows straight. The wider the distance between your hands, the easier it will be. Your goal is to find the sweet spot that challenges you without straining.
Place the rope in each of your hands and spread them apart in front of you. Lift your hands above your head and pull so there is tension. Carefully bend your upper body up and down to your left and right side, keeping the rope tot. As you master the move, go deeper into the up and down movement.
Place the rope in each of your hands and spread them apart in front of you. Lift your hands in front of your body and twist from side to side. To enhance the movement, pivot your opposite foot with a mini squeeze to your glutes.
Place the rope in each of your hands and spread them apart in front of you. Lift your hands above your head, then drop one arm down to your side. With the lowered arm, rotate your hand behind your back (like you are getting arrested) and pull upwards with the hand that is above your head. You may need to adjust the distance of your grip to get the maximum stretch. Flip your arms and do it on the opposite side.
Sit down on the ground (or bench) and extend one leg in front of you, while bending the opposite leg with your foot on the ground. Take the rope and carefully place it over the extended leg and add a slight tug. Elongate your spine, sit up tall, and roll your shoulders down towards your seat.
When to perform these stretches: you can experiment with all or a few of these mobility exercises right now, when you wake up in the morning, before bed after a warm shower, before a workout, or while you’re waiting for your dog (or kids) at the park.
Time to get moving.