How Fit Are You? 7 Things for You to Consider!

Yoga and Fitness: How do they work together hand in hand for your overall well-being? I personally believe that regardless of our age group, our fitness will either enhance or limit our quality of life. Since our spine is our lifeline and we are as old or young as our spine is flexible, these seven topics are valuable for you to discover your ability to enjoy an active life.

Most people assume that yoga is only about flexibility. So many of them say that they need a stretching class. I always smile and say, "Yes, we will stretch, but most importantly we will build flexibility and strength." After they leave our yoga practice, they usually have that knowing look on their faces as they wipe the sweat off their brows.
The benefits of flexibility are huge! Consider this excerpt from a popular women's health website:
1. Improved Performance, Decreased Injury Risk
A safe and effective flexibility training program increases physical performance. A flexible joint greatly decreases your risk of injury--it has the ability to move through a greater range of motion and requires less energy to do so. Stretching decreases resistance in tissue structures; you are, therefore, less likely to become injured by exceeding tissue extensibility (maximum range of tissues) during activity.
2. Reduced Muscle Soreness
Recent studies show that slow, static stretching helps reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Static stretching involves a slow, gradual and controlled elongation of the muscle through the full range of motion, held for 15-30 seconds, in the furthest comfortable position (without pain).
3. Improved Posture
Stretching also improves muscular balance and posture. Many people's soft-tissue structures have adapted poorly to either the effects of gravity or poor postural habits. Stretching can help realign soft tissue structures, thus reducing the effort it takes to achieve and maintain good posture in the activities of daily living.
4. Reduced Risk of Low Back Pain
Stretching reduces the risk of low back pain by promoting muscular relaxation. A muscle in constant contraction requires more energy to accomplish activities. Flexibility in the hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps, and other muscles attaching to the pelvis reduces stress to the low back. Stretching causes muscular relaxation, which results in reduction of accumulated toxins, less muscle shortening or tightening, and less fatigue.
5. Increased Blood and Nutrients to Tissues
Another great benefit: stretching increases blood supply and nutrients to joint structures. Stretching increases tissue temperature, which in turn increases circulation and nutrient transport. This allows greater elasticity of surrounding tissues and increases performance. Stretching also increases joint synovial fluid, which is a lubricating fluid that promotes the transport of more nutrients to the joints' articular cartilage. This allows a greater range of motion and reduces joint degeneration.
6. Improved Muscle Coordination
Another little-known benefit of stretching is increased neuromuscular coordination. Studies show that nerve-impulse velocity (the time it takes an impulse to travel to the brain and back) is improved with stretching. This helps opposing muscle groups work in a more synergistic, coordinated fashion.
7. Enhanced Enjoyment of Physical Activities
Flexibility training also means enhanced enjoyment--a fitness program should be fun if you want to stick with it. Not only does stretching decrease muscle soreness and increase performance, it also helps relax both mind and body, bringing a heightened sense of well-being and personal gratification during exercise.

Flexibility can be measured with your shoulders and hamstrings. Shoulders are measured with the reaching behind in "cowface" arms, and hamstrings are measured by a supine "hand to foot" posture.

Muscular Strength
Find out how many modified pushups you can do without stopping for one minute. Begin by positioning your body correctly with your knees on the floor, leaning forward, and placing your palms flat on the floor shoulder-width apart with your torso and thighs in a straight line.

Stand in front of a sturdy chair with your feet hip-width apart and your arms crossed in front of you. Keeping your body weight over your heels, lower your hips towards the chair without actually sitting down, then return to standing. Set the timer for one minute and see how many you can do without stopping.

Strong abdominal muscles help prevent lower back pain and improve your appearance. See how many you can do in one minute with your knees bent and your hands on your thighs. Lift your head and shoulders off the floor as you slide your hands towards your knees, look up at the ceiling as you imagine a small fruit (like a kiwi) under your chin.

Body Fat Distribution
The ratio of your waist - to - hip measurements is another good predictor of health and often a good predictor of heart attack risk.
Measure your waist with a tape measure about 2 inches below your navel. Then, measure circumference of your hips at the widest part. Divide your waist measurement by hip measurement.

Cardiovascular Fitness
Measure your resting heart rate.
For three consecutive days, as soon as you get up in the morning (before coffee or exercise), turn one hand palm up and with the tips of your other index and middle finger, gently press the pulse point on the wrist just below the base of your thumb. Count the number of heartbeats for ten seconds and multiply by 6. This will give you your average resting heart rate when you take all three days, add, and divide by 3.
Measure your maximal heart rate.
207 - (0.7 x age)

Measure your working heart rate.
Find a box or step about 16 inches high. Set a timer for one minute. Begin stepping up and down as quickly as you can without jumping. After 1 minute, stop. Take your pulse for ten seconds and multiply by 6.

I believe that practicing yoga and walking/running have helped me to have good health, and my latest medical checkup proved it. However, I remember being unfit, overweight, and miserable. Being fit enables us to enjoy our everyday life and do good to others especially by sharing our story and God's ability to help them as well. Flexibility, core strength, body/fat distribution, cardiovascular health, muscular endurance, muscular strength, and yoga all work together for our good.

God has so blessed my life, and I want my body, mind, and spirit to reflect the light of His glory. I am not there yet, but I am on my way with a goal before me and my past behind me.

Here is your example: I am 53 years old. 207 - (0.7 x 53) = 170 (my maximal heart rate)
My resting heart rate at the doctor's office the other day for a checkup was 60. 10 beats in 10 seconds x 6 = 60 bpm After my one minute step test, my heart rate is 120 bpm. To find my training zone, I would multiply my maximal heart rate times .75 which would give me 125 bpm. When I am walking or running, my goal would be to keep my heart rate somewhere between 65% - 85% for a good to great cardiovascular workout. Therefore, I need to keep my heart rate between 115 and 145 for my age group.

Take the fitness challenge by finding your scores, and the next posting will be to compare your results. If you stay with me and e-mail me back where you are on the physical fitness scale, I will enter your name in a drawing for a free gift from Tranquility Yoga.


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