Everywhere you look, people are out walking, jogging, cycling, playing touch or tennis or swimming and squash. But what are their aspirations?
Why this relatively sudden interest in fitness?
Recent studies have shown that active people lead fuller lives. They have more stamina, resist illness and stay trim. They also seem to have more self-confidence, are less depressed, and even later in life, are still energetic.
Research has shown that a great deal of ill health is directly related to lack of physical activity. Awareness of this fact, along with fuller knowledge of health care, is changing lifestyles. The current enthusiasm for exercise is not a fad. We now realise that the only way to prevent the diseases of inactivity is to constantly remain active.
As the world modernised, machines began to do the work once done by people. As people became less active, they began to pork up and get lazy.
No doubt about it, machines have made life easier, but it has come at a cost. Instead of walking, we drive; we don’t use the stairs, we take the lift; while once we were always active, we now spend most of the time on our bums and computers have made us desk bound. Without daily physical exercise, we’ve become couch potatoes and our muscles have become weak.
But times have changed. We have found that health is something we can control, and we can prevent poor health. Now we are exercising and leading active, healthy lives… and we’ve found we can do it at any age.
The body’s ability to recovery is exceptional. If a doctor operates to correct a problem, then stitches you up, the body then sets about healing itself. Nature finishes the doctor’s job. All of us have this capacity for regaining health, whether it’s from something as serious as surgery, or simply poor physical condition caused by lack of exercise and bad diet.
What does stretching have to do with all this? It’s that ingredient that can transform you from tired to ‘hot wired”
It is especially important if you run, cycle, play football, or participate in other strenuous exercises, because activities like these cause tightness and inflexibility. It keeps the muscles supple, prepares you for movement without undue strain. Stretching before and after exercise or other strenuous activity will keep you flexible and may prevent common injuries such as knee problems from running and sore shoulders or elbows from squash.
Incorrect stretching however, can actually do more harm than good. When it’s done correctly, it feels good and you do not have to try to go further each day. It should not be a personal contest to see how far you can stretch. Stretching should be tailored to your particular muscular structure and flexibility. The key is regularity and relaxation. The aim is to reduce muscular tension, not to concentrate on attaining extreme flexibility, which can lead to over-stretching and injury.
Watch a cat for a while. It knows how to stretch and does it spontaneously, never over-stretching, but continually and naturally toning up muscles it uses.
Stretching is not stressful. It is peaceful, relaxing, and noncompetitive. Stretching lets you get in touch with your muscles. It is completely adjustable to the individual. You do not have to conform to any discipline… stretching gives you the freedom to enjoy being yourself.
You don’t have to be a great athlete to be fit, but you do need to take it easy, especially in the beginning. Give your body and mind time to adjust to the stresses of physical activity. Start easily and be regular. You won’t get in shape in a day, but by stretching regularly and exercising frequently, you will learn to enjoy movement.
Competent massage therapists understand the benefits of stretching and encourage the practise. I have clients I massage on a regular basis… some weekly, others fortnightly and some monthly. Between visits, they are encouraged to maintain their stretching habits. I can tell if they haven’t been!
If you haven’t tried massage therapy give me a call today. Arrange an appointment and experience the many benefits that massage has to offer.