Most women who want to establish a great health and fitness regime, realise the importance of cardiovascular and resistance training (aerobic and toning activities) and factor these into their workouts. However, there are three key elements to an effective and balanced fitness program, and the third element – flexibility training – is often missing.
Flexibility training, like Yoga and Pilates, is often seen as too slow or too easy to be of any real benefit.
- Strength: Many Yoga postures require you to support the weight of your own body which increases your strength.
- Muscle tone: As a by-product of getting stronger, you can expect to see increased muscle tone. Yoga really helps to shape your muscles, making them long and lean.
- Flexibility: Stretching your body in new ways will help it become more flexible, bringing greater range of motion to muscles and joints. This helps to relieve pain caused by muscle tightness, protects against injuries and improves your overall exercise performance.
- Improved breathing: Most of us breathe very shallowly into the lungs and don’t give much thought to how we breathe. Yoga focuses the attention on the breath and teaches us how to better use our lungs, which benefits the entire body.
- Good posture: Yoga will give you an increased awareness of your own body, leading to improved posture and greater self-confidence.
- Focus and inner calm: Yoga is a holistic workout that will leave you feeling calm and centred. By focusing on, and slowing down, your breathing you will naturally de-stress and relax.
If you’re a regular exerciser, you can dramatically enhance your physical performance by incorporating flexibility training into your fitness regime, as well as lowering your risk of injury. But whatever your fitness goals may be, the most important reason for ensuring your joints and muscles maintain flexibility is to preserve your range of motion. This will allow you to continue performing everyday tasks in later life.