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The Fourth Key to Wellness and Longevity

Exercise

Exercise is a very broad topic, and since this series of information is all about Mastering the Basics, we’re going to keep it nice and simple. We have broken exercise down to the 3 topics that we think are the most important: cardiovascular health, core strength, and flexibility.

Cardiovascular Health

You have probably heard that ‘cardio’ exercise is important for your cardiovascular health and weight management, however did you know that it is also important for hormone regulation? Are you familiar with the ‘high’ you get after exercise? That is due to the release of serotonin – our “feel-good” hormone. Exercise can also help with cortisol metabolism (our stress hormone) and studies have shown that regular exercise improves your body’s ability to handle stressful situations. If you’re still not convinced, research has shown that there is a clear relationship between leg strength and life expectancy, so keeping your legs strong is worth the thought! There are plenty of options to choose from in terms of getting enough cardio exercise. Start with a brisk walk, jog or cycle for 30 minutes, 3 times per week.

 Core Strength

Your core muscles are close to your spine and are vital to keeping your body stable and strong. To work on them, one of our favourite exercises are ‘single leg extensions’ which are outlined below. You might also have heard of ‘bridges’ or ‘planks’, which are also effective provided you have a solid foundation (ask for our separate core strength handout for more information if you’re interested).

Single Leg Extensions

Single Leg Extensions

1.  Lie on your back with your hips and legs bent to 90∞ and your abdominals held tight.

2.  Straighten one leg and lower towards the floor, without letting your foot touch the floor.

3.  Hold for 3 seconds.

4.  Bend hip and knee back to starting position and repeat with other leg.

5.  Repeat this 3 times to start with and increase as it becomes less difficult.

Stretches

Stretching daily is a great way to maintain flexibility to keep your muscles and joints healthy. Flexibility helps to prevent injury – a tight and shortened muscle is much more prone to fail. We have put together a series of stretches that we recommend as a great ‘all rounder’ stretch routine. If you prefer to do your own, ensure you are including your hamstrings, quadriceps, piriformis, lower back and pectoralis – these are all prone to being overworked due to modern lifestyle. While you are stretching, it is important to ensure you are not over-doing it (it should never hurt) and that your pelvis is square and stable. Try not to bounce in and out of a stretch and ideally do a little warm up first so there’s plenty of blood flow to the area you’re working on, then holding each stretch for 15-30 seconds is a good target.

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