Leg Exercise is Important

17 06 2012

Article printed in the Weekly Record Herald on June 10, 2012.

When meeting with a new client at the gym where I work as a personal trainer, I will ask them to give me a little background on their past exercise experiences and future goals. What I hear most is the desire to firm up, get healthy, and lose weight.

The legs and buttocks make up the largest muscles of the body. Working these muscles not only tones and strengthens, but also increases the metabolism. Leg exercises are a must for strength, flexibility and functional mobility.

Leg exercises promote working the largest muscles and muscle balance, while remaining healthy and pain-free. Proper form is most important to avoid injury and build muscle strength.

One of my favorite leg exercises is the squat. The squat requires the gluteus, quadriceps, hamstring, and calf muscles to work, which strengthens the leg and supports the knee.

The squat: If you are currently working with a health care professional, you will want to consult with them before trying the squat. You do not need a gym or special equipment to perform a squat. For a beginner you may want to stand near a wall or chair for support. • Stand with feet hip-width apart, toes pointing straight ahead • Tighten and pull in abdominal muscles • Lower body as if sitting in a chair, slowly • Stop when legs are parallel to the floor • Hold squat for a few seconds • Now press through the heels and return to standing position • Repeat for 2–3 sets, 8–12 repetitions each • Rest 60–90 seconds between sets

The easiest way to minimize stress on the knee is to be aware of the positioning of your knees and toes during the exercise. Simply, keep your hips from moving forward when your knees are bearing the load. If you ever feel knee pain, you need to stop. The knees are very complex joints and are highly susceptible to damage. Did you know, when we are standing, the knee carries approximately 80 percent of our body weight?

Functional “real life” movement is something we want to maintain throughout our lives. The squat will help you keep the strength and flexibility in your lower body to be able to bend down to pick something up. You will be glad you kept up with your squats!

Tammy’s Challenges

Growth does not come from one perspective. To achieve a healthy lifestyle, you must do more than concentrate on exercise alone. Diet changes will enhance your wellbeing, but it alone is not healthy. Let’s not forget the soul or spirit. It needs nurturing as well. So, here are a few mind (diet) – body (exercise) – soul (mental) challenges for you to try.

Mind: No trans fats – read the labels of everything you eat.

Body: Do three sets of squats, three times a week, with a day of rest in between.

Soul: Write down 10 things that make you happy and smile.

I would love to hear from you. Email me at
Tammy@TammYoga.com, visit my TammYoga Facebook page, or tweet me @TammYoga.

Namaste  (The spirit in me respects the spirit in you.)

Tammy





Tree Pose

10 01 2012

I love Tree Pose. Whenever I need to calm my mind and re-ground myself, I move into Tree Pose. I can do it anywhere.

Try Tree Pose:

Stand with feet hip-width apart, feeling the feet grounded into the floor. Body weight is distributed on both feet. Find a focal point and shift weight to the left foot. Bring the sole of the right foot to the left ankle, big toe touching the floor and heel near right calf. Stay here until you feel comfortable to move on.

Tree Pose with Toes

You may bring the sole of the right foot up to the calf or inner thigh, avoiding the knee. Bring hands into prayer at your heart. Lengthen the spine up through the crown of your head, while keeping the foot grounded.

Press the sole of the foot into the thigh and press the thigh against the sole of the foot.

Repeat on the other side.

Tree Pose

Benefits:

* Strengthens thighs, calves, ankles, and spine

* Improves concentration and balance

Try not to judge yourself. One side may be easier than the other. One day may be easier than another. Accept what your body can do today.

Namaste

Tammy