By: CRK Summerfield
Many conditioning programs focus on cardiorespiratory and muscle development training, but they often overlook the final factor in a comprehensive physical fitness program: flexibility training.
Degree of Flexibility Factors
Stretching on a regular basis helps increase flexibility in your joints and muscles, enabling you to perform daily activities more easily. Flexibility varies from one person to another--and from one body part to another--but, in general, the following factors influence degrees of flexibility:
1. Your age. As you get older, you lose elasticity and your muscles get tighter.
2. Your gender. In general, women are found to be more flexible than men.
3. Your exercise history. Active people are more flexible than inactive ones, and those who perform resistance training enjoy a greater range of movement.
4. The temperature. When your temperature goes up, your muscles become more supple (thus, the reason you should always warm up).
Benefits of Flexibility Training
Include stretching exercises in your workout routine, and you'll benefit in a number of ways.
1. Stretching reduces muscle tension, helps alleviate muscle soreness after exercising, and helps delay muscle fatigue.
2. It can help you retain and gain mobility in your joints.
3. Done properly, stretching helps prevent injuries.
4. It can help you improve your posture and coordination, thus enhancing your appearance and performance capabilities.
5. It promotes a feeling of well-being and increases your ability to relax, both mentally and physically.
6. Flexibility exercises add variety to your workout routine, helping to alleviate boredom.
7. And finally, flexibility training helps improve your quality of life, enabling you to work and play better, more easily and for longer periods of time.
General Stretching Guidelines
As you add flexibility exercises to your fitness plan, keep the following guidelines in mind:
1. Always warm up first.
2. Be sure to stretch opposing muscles.
3. Use exercises that stretch all of your major muscle groups.
4. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds; repeat for up to four sets.
5. Relax the target muscle before you begin the stretching exercise.
6. Breath slowly.
7. Stretch to the fullest range of movement, but not to the point of pain.
8. Discontinue the stretch if it causes pain or unusual discomfort.
If you have health concerns, be sure to check with your physician before incorporating flexibility training into your fitness routine.
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THE MOST OVERLOOKED FITNESS FACTOR
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