Healthy Living In Ladue and Frontenac
This new weekly column will feature ideas for staying healthy.
Welcome to the inaugural weekly column about healthy living. Each week we will bring you information on nutrition, fitness and lifestyle choices to help you live healthier and happier.
We want your comments, suggestions, topics ideas, and stories of your personal experiences so don’t hesitate to let us know what you’re thinking.
To begin with, let’s look at the three basic components of fitness: aerobic, strength and flexibility. You need to be doing all three in order to keep your body healthy and in balance. For healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and two sessions of strength training exercises each week.
For this week’s column, we’ll focus on the strength and flexibility components.
Strength training offers many benefits: tones muscles, improves your appearance, reduces body fat, increases lean muscle mass, burns calories, and helps combat osteoporosis. It also has been shown, along with stretching, to improve balance.
There are several options for improving your strength such as free weights, Pilates (see below), tubes and weight machines. Each method has its advantages and experts recommend that you mix up your routine to keep it from becoming boring for you.
Whether you choose free weights, machine weights, or Pilates, proper technique and form are the more important things you can do to prevent injury and get the most out of them.
Stretching and flexibility exercises help promote balance in your muscles since most aerobic and strengthening programs cause your muscles to contract. Again form is important when stretching your muscles as is gentleness. For example, the old days of bouncing to touch your toes are gone. Instead, breathe deeply and slowly bend to stretch the back of your legs. Also gone is the “no pain, no gain” mantra especially when stretching. You should expect to feel tension but no pain; if you feel pain, you’ve gone too far.
What Is Pilates?
In its simplest form, Pilates (puh-LAH-teez) is a system of strengthening and stretching exercises designed to strengthen the body’s core or trunk. Incorporating breathing awareness and precise control of movements, Pilates is a low-impact way to improve your strength, endurance and flexibility.
“Pilates is corrective exercise. It corrects the body alignment and imbalances,” Karen Prechtel, studio owner of Pilates & Yoga Center of St. Louis in Ladue, said. “You use your breath and brain to identify muscle groups to contract and strengthen them.”
Prechtel said that everything in Pilates is core connected. “It teaches you how to stand properly, aligns your spine, your legs, and your back.”
Since the mind-body connection is so important to Pilates, her studio doesn’t have loud televisions or people pounding out runs on treadmills. Instead, there is quiet, relaxing music in the background that doesn’t overpower the instructor’s soothing voice. “It’s time to calm down and do something very organized that focuses on strength and flexibility,” Prechtel said.
Before beginning any exercise program, always check with your health care provider.