Every five years or so a new fitness craze sweeps through the culture. Television news anchors blather on about the latest, greatest exercise programs. Newspapers and magazines publish features in their Sunday sections, filled with pictures of glistening, glowing, glamorous celebrities hard at work on the new routines.
Professional dancers are a pretty select group. These elite athletes are arguably among the fittest people in the world. Dance training provides flexibility, strength, speed, and agility - qualities of which we'd all like to have more. As a result, the dancer's experience provides lifelong guidance for the rest of us as we pursue our own fitness-and-exercise quest.1,2,3
Should I stretch before or after I exercise?1 Should I even bother to stretch at all? These are the questions that every busy adult asks whenever he or she is planning to begin an exercise program. The correct answer to the first question is "do whatever is right for you." Some people need to lengthen their major muscle groups, such as the quadriceps (front of the thigh), hamstrings (back of the thigh), and calves, before they run, walk, swim, and/or lift weights for exercise. For others, it's best to stretch at the end of a workout, re-lengthening the major muscle groups so they'll be ready to help you move through the rest of your day.
Everyone knows that exercise is good for you.1,2 Many people who haven’t exercised in a while (possibly not in many years) want to know whether running will help them get fit. A follow-up question for those willing to take action in the important area of exercise is how to avoid running injuries. The answers to these questions can have a long-term impact on a person’s health and well-being.3
The most important thing to do - every hour or so - is change your posture and get the body parts moving again. Stand up, take a few slow, deep breaths, and walk around for five minutes. Change your perspective. Go to the window, look around, see something other than the Power Point you've been working on for the last hour. Refresh your mind with new images, new scenery.
Now, back at your desk, you're ready to do a series of simple exercises that will get your physical and mental systems back online -