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Participation in yoga for fitness, flexibility, and relaxation has increased dramatically over the past decade. More than 15 million Americans practiced some form of yoga in 2009. According to the National Sporting Goods Association, yoga is one of the fastest growing athletic activities in the United States with increased participation of nearly 50 percent in the past three years.
Yoga encourages balance, strength, proper posture, improved breathing, control, and awareness of one’s body, and has potential mental benefits as well. With increased participation, injuries have also become more common. With a few simple guidelines, many of these injuries can be prevented or limited. Additionally, when working with an experienced instructor, yoga may be helpful for injury recovery from numerous orthopedic conditions such as common strains and sprains.
There are several types or disciplines of yoga. Not every form is friendly for beginners and some can be quite strenuous. Depending on your athleticism, fitness, flexibility, and conditioning as well as pre-existing medical conditions, you should choose a style that fits you well. You should also communicate your goals and needs with the instructor before embarking on a new program.
Injuries can be avoided by knowing your limitations. If you have pre-existing medical problems or extremity injuries, consult your physician or orthopedic surgeon prior to starting or renewing a yoga program. Discuss any pre-existing conditions with the yoga instructor before starting a class. They may want you to avoid certain poses or positions.
Typically, injuries occur when participants attempt a challenging pose or posture without having the initial capability, flexibility, or strength to perform that maneuver or when the pose is performed improperly. In yoga, it is better to do a portion of the maneuver perfectly than to push from poor alignment into a full pose.
With proper techniques and guidance, yoga can be extremely rewarding both physically and mentally. Following this straightforward advice, injuries are unusual and the disciplines can be quite beneficial for core and postural strength, balance, and flexibility..

With the rising obesity rate in the United States, many health care providers advocate exercise for their patients. Often included in this program is a prescription for weight or “strength” training to help strengthen muscles and prevent injury. Concerns are often raised, however, on whether strength training is appropriate and safe for kids. Recent research has shown that the potential benefits of youth strength training extends beyond a simple increase in muscular strength and may include other improvements such as endurance, bone mineral density, coordination and motor performance skills.

Earlier concerns regarding youth weight training focused primarily around the risk for potential injuries and the fear of premature growth plate closure. However, recent data indicates that a supervised weight training program can be safely administered to children as young as six years old without risk of growth plate or musculoskeletal injury. In 2009, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) made recommendations that included 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity participation for school-aged youth. In addition to aerobic activity, the NSCA stated that, “research increasingly indicates that resistance training can offer unique benefits for children and adolescents when appropriately prescribed and supervised.”

Preventing injury and proper form is critical to maximizing strength training benefits in young children. Many past injury concerns with youth strength training revolved around the use of inappropriate weights, poor form and inadequate rest between exercise bouts.

Current guidelines recommend:
• Using weight machines and not free weights
• Proper stretching and warm-up prior to each training session
• Each strength training session be supervised by an adult
• Use of a circuit machine that works the major body parts should be performed only two to three times per week with at least one day of rest in between
• Ensuring correct form is used during each exercise, with approximately 12–15 repetitions performed
• No quick movements or jerking exercises, but rather smooth repetitions
• Strengthening the chest, shoulders, arms, legs and calves with one to two sets for each muscle group is sufficient for each training session.

Strength training is beneficial for children on many levels and should include high repetitions, low weights, pre-training stretching and be performed no more than three times per week. If these strict guidelines are followed, substantial gains in muscular strength and fitness-related measures can be expected..

Weight lifting has been shown in several studies to offer numerous health benefits ranging from increasing psychological well-being to promoting weight loss. Many of us however, don’t have the luxury of owning a weight set or belonging to a gym. We can substitute some simple common items for weights as long as we adhere to some basic principles. To increase strength and muscle mass, our bodies simply need applied resistance. This can be realized through elastic bands, isometrics or a Swiss ball.
To help muscles grow, they must have resistance for eight to 12 repetitions and for two to three sets of repetitions. If using an elastic band, for example, the band can be attached to the floor and, by grasping the free end, a curling motion can be simulated. Choose a band that is thick enough so that at least eight repetitions can be performed. If you can perform 15 or more repetitions, it is time to move onto a thicker band.
Isometrics can be implemented almost anywhere and simply involve pushing against an immovable object for a count of five seconds. Pushing elbows outward against the wall can give deltoid muscles a reasonable workout similar to that of a push-up.
Swiss balls can serve as a free weight substitute, and are particularly useful in training the core muscles of the back and abdominals. Performing an exercise such as a sit up while lying on a Swiss ball engages more muscles than if performed on a flat surface. Furthermore, balance and the ability to feel one’s body in space, is enhanced.
You don’t need a membership to a gym to gain strength. Get started—at home—today!.