Ann Blanton Let's talk health, fitness, nutrition and everything in between

Posts Tagged ‘nutrient

Stretching for good health

Photo by RobW

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On Your Mark, Get Set, Stretch!

Are you like most people when they first begin to exercise? The morning after, you’re muscles are so sore, you can hardly roll out of bed. You feel as if you’ve already been kicked to the curb and the day hasn’t even started. If you haven’t already figured out the solution, I’ll tell you. The answer is stretching before and after your workout.

Gentle stretching prior to activity is beneficial to warm up cold muscles and helps to prevent pulled or torn muscles. The post workout stretch aids in recovery and avoids injury. Neglecting to do so can make a world of difference between sore muscles and fatigue or increased energy and stronger muscles. Stretching shapes the muscles, making them long and lean and removes the lactic acid.

Now that you understand the importance of stretching, let’s talk about some of the benefits. 

Improves flexibility and range of motion

As you age, simple everyday tasks such as tying your shoes or picking something up from off the floor can often become challenging. Regular stretching can elongate your muscles and make daily chores much easier to achieve.

Enhances circulation

Stretching promotes circulation of blood to the muscles and joints, which in turn bring nutrients to the cells and helps to remove waste. 

Develops good posture

Stretching helps keep your muscles from becoming tight and sore, which in turn, allows for better posture and fewer aches and pains.

Relieves stress, anxiety and fatigue

Tense muscles are often accompanied by stress. Stretching relaxes those muscles and brings you a sense of well-being and relief.

Decreases risk from injury

When your muscles and joints are tight, stretching before and after a workout, loosens and protects them from becoming painful after exercise.

Now that you know the advantages of stretching, let’s practice a few techniques.

Calf

This is the muscle that runs along the back of the lower leg. Stand at arm’s length from a wall. Put one foot behind the other. The right knee should be straight and the right heel positioned on the floor as you slowly bend the left leg forward. Always hold your back straight and your hips forward. 

Hamstring

Your hamstring runs along the back of your upper leg. Lie on the floor, placing one leg against the wall. Relax your heel alongside the wall and bend your knee slightly. Gently straighten your leg until you feel a stretch along the back of your thigh.

Quadriceps

The quads run along the front of your thigh. Standing next to a wall for support, gently grasp your ankle. Pull your heel up and back until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Hold your stomach in tight and keep your knees together.

Shoulders

Bring your left arm above or below your elbow and hold gently. Repeat with your right arm.

Neck

Bend your head forward and gently to the left. Do the same thing on the right. Hold to a comfortable position.

Warm-up

Always prepare your body for what is about to come. Remember to stretch cold muscles to prevent your risk of injury. Don’t rush stretching. Take things slow and easy. 

Breathe

Never hold your breath! Inhale slowly as you begin your stretch and exhale as you complete it.

Cool down

The cool down is just as important as stretching because it gradually brings your heart rate down without shocking your body. It also helps to relax your muscles before stretching takes place. 

Tips:

1. If it hurts, don’t do it! Hold each stretch for at least thirty to sixty seconds. If you feel pain or discomfort, back off.

2. Never bounce while you’re stretching because it can cause injury to your muscle tissue.

3. If you have a chronic medical condition or an injury, seek medical advice from a professional. Modify stretching is always advisable.

4. If you don’t exercise regularly, take a few minutes to stretch your body every morning and again before going to bed to maintain flexibility.

5. Make a habit to stretch daily and your body will thank you.

I would love to hear your feedback, so send me all your comments.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/ Currently, I just had my first short story titled, “Shattered Spirit”, published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.

 

Drink up! The Nutrient of Life!

Water is by far, the most important nutrient on earth! Water is 80% of the body’s weight that performs and supports the internal functions of all plants and animals. Common sense tells us that we all need it, and without it, our bodies simply cannot perform appropriately.  When your body is well hydrated, all the internal organs function at a higher capacity.

Water helps to regulate the body’s temperature. It makes up ninety two percent of the blood and almost ninety eight percent of intestinal, gastric,  salivary and pancreatic juices. Water holds all nutritive factors in solution and acts as a transportation medium for all these substances. Drinking water for health, helps to keep the blood thin, as it should be. But when you’re dehydrated, the blood thickens which can make it much more difficult to pump. What’s more, it makes the overall function of the body slow and unproductive.

Many believe that drinking water is only to quench thirst, but, in reality, it’s the most important source of nourishment for the body. It might be possible to go without food for days, maybe even weeks, but without water, a person would be in dire straits.

On average, an adult body loses about three and a half quarts of water on a daily basis through breathing, perspiration, urination and bowel movement. Because half of the human body is made up of water, it’s important to replace what is lost. The only way to do that, is to drink plenty of fluids every day to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Some people wonder how much water they should be drinking daily. That depends on your activity level, health status, the climate in which you live or if you’re pregnant or nursing. A good way to determine your daily consumption is based on your total body weight divided by two. Example: Let’s say that you weigh one hundred and fifty pounds; divide that by two, equals seventy five. So every day you should be drinking no less than seventy five ounces of fresh, clean water.  Are you drinking the expected amount for your total body weight?

Water and Exercise

Because sweat is a liquid, it diminishes the body’s internal water supply. If you sweat excessively during exercise and don’t replenish the fluids that are lost, it can lead to illness and other problems such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, dizziness and muscle cramps. With that said, it’s critical to adequately replace whatever you lose while exercising. Hydration enhances physical performance, helps digestion, maintains balance of electrolytes and transports nutrition. Remember to always drink more water before, during and after exercise to keep your energy levels high and to aid in recovery.

Water and Weight Loss

Drinking water also helps to speed up your metabolism and acts as a natural appetite suppressant for weight loss. If you’re trying to lose weight, you should be drinking an additional eight ounce glass for every twenty five pounds you are over your ideal weight. The advantage is the positive effect water has on your metabolic rate. Usually, women have less water than men; but overweight people have less water than a thin person because fatty tissue contains less water than lean tissue.

Ask yourself this question. How many times have you felt hungry and reached for a snack? Your body was asking for something and you merely assumed it must be food. Maybe you were  just dehydrated and needed water. The next time, reach for a glass of water and see if that helps. Some people wait until there thirsty to drink water. If you wait until thirst sets in, you’re probably already dehydrated.

Water flushes toxins from the body

Drinking water detoxifies the liver and kidneys and carries waste away from the body. 

Water assists fluid retention

If the body doesn’t get enough water, every drop of liquid you put into it, it will hold onto. So what’s the solution? Drink more water. When the body recognizes it has a continuous amount, it will stop hanging onto every drop. A diet that is high in sodium will also cause water retention. To combat this, drink more water to help flush the sodium through your kidneys.

Muscle Tone

If you lift weights to build long lean muscle mass, you must keep your body well-hydrated because water helps muscle tone by giving it the usual capability to contract. It also lubricates the joints.

Can you drink too much water? Absolutely. It’s called water intoxication. When I talk about too much water, I’m referring to excessive amounts under normal circumstances. Too much water in your system causes the dilution of necessary electrolytes in the blood stream, which has implications to control the heart beat. Recommendations are to drink eight to twelve glasses of fluid with additional fluids from the foods that you eat to help support exercise and hot climates.

Tip:

If you plan to stay hydrated, drink cold water; but drink warm water if you want to stay full longer.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/