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Plus-Size Fitness Excerpt from Don't Weight
At Home and Stretched Out
What if you are just starting out, and any exercise seems intimidating? What if you need to stay in the house for some reason? Perhaps the winter weather or the intense summer heat causes problems for you. These issues can be a real challenge to getting fit or staying fit. However, with creativity, patience, and persistence, you can overcome these challenges.
A good place to start is by paying attention to your attitudes about fitness. Fitness has nothing to do with your age or body size. Fitness develops when you take care of the body that nature has given you, whatever your age, whatever quirks may have developed over time.
When you stay at home, you are functioning in a relatively small space. You tend to make relatively small movements. You often miss the full range of motion of your joints and don't stretch your muscles. It can become a downward spiral. The less you move, the less you are able to move. However, the reverse is also true. Once you get moving, even just a little bit, you will be able to move more. The human body is truly a miracle. Let that miracle work for you!
Think about your morning, after you have taken care of basics and before you get dressed. Think about evening, after you have completed your bedtime routine and put on your nightclothes. These are two perfect times to take a few minutes for a gentle stretch. The key is GENTLE stretch. Your muscles are less flexible when you awaken or are tired at the end of the day. But this is exactly when your body needs the extra circulation and relaxation that stretching provides. Stretch gently on the flat comfortable surface of your bed, so that your movements will be both safe and effective.
Start out with a few ankle circles. Just lay back and prop each calf up on a pillow or two so you can slowly move your ankles around. Do eight ankle circles on one leg and then eight on the other. Repeat this cycle as many times as you want. Ahhh! Can you feel all the muscles in your leg moving? Ankle circles increase the flexibility of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your foot and ankle. This flexibility makes your arches more comfortable when you walk, minimizes pain from heel spurs, and reduces arthritis pain. The motion of your foot increases circulation in the legs, which helps relieve discomfort from varicose veins. You strengthen the muscles in your leg and ankle that affect balance.
Next, slowly hug ONE knee while the other leg remains bent with the foot on the bed. If you are not flexible and cannot reach your knee, just use the sheet to help you hug your knee in the direction of your torso. This releases the lower back and stretches the back of the leg. But there is a bonus. Do you feel the stretch between your shoulders as your arms reach down? Can you feel the muscles in your arms contracting as you pull gently on your leg? These stretches should feel good, never hurt. Stretch each leg, one at a time. Then set your legs down one at a time and enjoy the tingling from the improved circulation.
Now is a great time to sit up on the edge of the bed. Lift your ribcage up so that you are sitting in good posture while you do some shoulder rolls. Feel the muscles in your upper back and chest as you use them gently. You will feel the stiffness in your shoulders melt away. To release tension in your neck, again sit in good posture and slowly look over one shoulder. Hold that stretch and take a deep relaxing breath. Yes, you will probably yawn at this time. Enjoy it! Stretch the other side of your neck by looking over the other shoulder. Relax and breathe again. Can feel how this stretches all the delicate muscles of the neck and upper back?
Moving and stretching helps more than your body.
Finish off your stretch by reaching your arms out, up, back, around. Reach anywhere that feels good. Reach slowly. Reach gently. Next, place one hand on the mattress beside you and let the other hand reach across in front of you so that you feel a nice SLOW rotational stretch in your spine. Finally, reach both arms up, bend at the elbows, and pat yourself on the back. You have started, or ended, your day with care and respect for the body nature has given you. You are now an active part of the miracle that is unfolding as your body gets more fit!
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