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The basics of exercising

Before undertaking the New York marathon, we thought it was a great idea to introduce you to the basics of exercising so that you a. don't injure yourself, and b. don't in a weeks time wonder what the hell you are doing. In simplistic terms, we want to focus on three different areas :

  • The basics
  • Stretching
  • Warming up

    • The basics

      There are a number of things you should consider in trying get fit. In short, what are you goals, what do you like doing and how can you set and achieve goals?

      People exercise for reasons ranging from losing weight, to toning their bodies and in order to meet these targets is need to stick to some kind of plan. The form of exercise you take is very important, especially as to stick to a plan you will need to enjoy what you're doing. Finally once all that's figured out, make sure you've got the right gear and if need be a membership to the local gym!

    • Stretching

      When you work a muscle, it contracts and generally becomes shorter. As you will need to continue using the muscle, to keep it flexible and to ensure it is able to travel through its full range of motion, you have to lengthen it again. We can generally split the body into two sections, the upper body and the lower body.

      Upper body means stretching your neck, arms, back and shoulders to relieve tension. Lower body includes your thighs, hamstrings, calf muscles etc. When you stretch, ease your body into the position. When you feel the stretch, hold it for 20 to 30 seconds. Breathe deeply to help your body move oxygen-rich blood to those sore muscles. Don't bounce or force yourself into an uncomfortable position.

    • Warming up

      Warming up is essential to raise body temperature. This temperature elevation reduces the potential of muscle and tissue injuries. In addition, blood flow to the muscles aids in the delivery of fuels required for muscle performance. Warming up also prepares the cardiovascular and muscular systems for the physical activity reducing the likelihood of excessive muscular soreness from strenuous activity.

      Studies also show that warming up increases the speed of nerve impulses to muscles. This enables athletes to achieve faster reaction times. There is no quick way or short cut to a good warm-up. Exercise slowly and gently for 3-5 minutes or until a light sweat starts. Then slowly stretch the muscles you will be using ensuring you hold for 15-30 seconds without bouncing.

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