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An Apper for All

We've heard it many times exercise relieves tension, alleviates anger, and picks you up when you're feeling down. A study cited in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness last year has shown that you don't need to be feeling down in order for exercise to pick you up. Participants were 90 female exercisers who first completed a mood evaluation and then took part in a 60-minute exercise session. The results were surprising all of the women reported enhanced mood following the exercise session, including those participants who said they felt fine in the first place. The women who felt good before exercise experienced just as much of a mood boost as those who reported feelings of depression and anxiety before exercise. This suggests that even those of us who don't think we need a mood boost can mentally benefit from physical activity. Increased energy, mental clarity, and the general high associated with exercise can be experienced by everyone not just those of us who are feeling down.

Tanya Rouble, ACE-CPT

Imagine You're a Pretzel

Have you ever said to yourself, "Gee, I used to be able to touch my toes. Now I can't!" It is common knowledge that as we age, flexibility decreases. While most of us want to be limber, most of us are not. The problem is that, because stretching can be uncomfortable, it tends to wait on the back burner with promises to do it later.

A recent study published in February 2006 in the Journal of Sports Sciences encourages us to get our brain involved while stretching in order to gain more enjoyment from this type of activity. Thirty volunteers took part in a flexibility training program for four weeks. One group imagined moving the limb they were stretching, a second group tried to visualize the muscle as it stretched, and the third group did not engage in any mental imagery. Results showed significant gains in flexibility in all three groups. However, the two groups that used imagery reported higher levels of comfort while stretching.

Basically, by creating a mental picture of the limb or muscle while stretching, participants felt less discomfort with the movement. Less discomfort may transfer to more participation in this type of activity. So before you decide to do it later, try focusing on the task at hand-a good stretch and limber up in comfort.

T.R.

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