By: Karena Thek Lineback
Can 4 simple moves put the brakes on obesity, reduce heart disease, increase lung capacity, reduce osteoporosis fracture risk and ease back pain? Yes, they can. Here are the exercises and why they are so effective.
- Health Issue: Heart disease, obesity, asthma
Exercise: Deep Breathing
Why it helps: Deep breathing reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone). Reduced cortisol levels reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity. Deep breathing helps asthma patients improve lung capacity: most asthma patients are unable to aerate their lungs fully. Practicing deep breathing changes that.
How it's done: Sitting up tall in your chair, wrap the arms across the chest with the hands placed on the ribcage. Take a deep inhale. During the inhale the ribs expand sideways into the hands, backwards into the chair and allow the belly to push into the waistband. Exhale completely until the abdominals between the front ribs engage.
- Health Issue: Preventing spinal fractures from Osteoporosis (Affecting 1 in 2 women)
Exercise: Weighted Spine Extension
Why it helps: A study performed by the Mayo Clinic (1992) showed that fracture risk can be reduced up to 300 percent with this one simple exercise. Spinal fractures, while creating great amounts of pain, also lead to congestive heart failure, pneumonia and poor digestion all due to crushed organs.
How it's done: Lie face-down on an exercise mat or towel. The forehead is resting on the fingertips, legs are straight. On the exhale, pull your stomach to your spine, squeeze your tush, press the thighs into the mat and lift the upper body off the mat while keeping the fingertips 'glued' to the forehead. The movement is very small as the stomach needs to stay pulled in.
- Health Issue: Back and Hip Pain
Exercise: Side-lying leg exercise
Why it helps: For reasons not understood by the scientists, the smaller gluteal muscles at the sides of the hips stop working when a patient experiences back or hip pain. These muscles are crucial for stabilization and to keep undue pressure off of the spine. Performing this exercise often gets these smaller gluteal muscles firing again for the first time since the patient first began experiencing pain.
How it's done: Lie on your side with your head resting on a straight arm extended on the mat. Shoulder is 'stacked' over shoulder and hip over hip. The abdominals are lifted away from the mat in order to engage the abdominal and spinal muscles. The lower leg is bent and the top leg is stretched straight and slightly in front of the torso: a slight 'L-shape'. Lift the top leg on the exhale. The leg is lifted only as high as the hip. Hold the leg there for 2-5 seconds and then lower the leg on the inhale.
- Health Issue: Poor Posture
The Exercise: Kneeling Glide combining spine lengthening with full torso strengthening
Why it helps: Outside of the fact that improved posture can take an easy decade off of your appearance, improved posture can do everything from flattening your stomach, creating sexy back muscles and improving your sex life (and not just because your look younger). Improved posture also prevents congestive heart failure and improves digestive health.
How it's done: Begin by kneeling on an exercise mat or floor. Now place the hands on the floor. Glide the hands forward on the floor until the spine is stretched straight and the hips are directly over the hips. Once the spine is in a lengthened neutral position, take a deep inhale. On the exhale contract all the muscles of the torso to reinforce this new lengthened posture. Hold the isometric contraction for up to 12 seconds. Beginners will hold for two to three seconds.
Karena opened Pilates Teck after retiring from a professional dance career. The studio has been a center of learning for Karena as well as a catalyst to future projects. 'The more I teach the more I understand about how our bodies respond to the stress we face in everyday life and how those stresses can be alleviated through movement.'
Karena is author of 'OsteoPilates; Increase Bone Density, Reduce Fracture Risk, Look and Feel Great!' The book was created due to a lack of information about exercising safely with low bone density. This book teaches safe exercise to prevent fracture while exercising (Sit-ups are a high fracture risk situation) and the rules for preventing low bone density.
Listen to Karena live on her radio show 'Today's Woman' AM 1220 KHTS on Wednesdays 12-1 p.m. PST. Karena's interviews are fun, upbeat and focus on what is on the minds of women.
Karena also has a TV special called 'Pilates for Every Body.' American Public Television not only requested rights to this special for two years but also funded 70 percent of the program. The special began airing nationwide on May 23, 2009. The special has a strong health and wellness focus.
For more information, visit www.osteopilates.com
>> Buy this book on Amazon: Osteopilates: Increase Bone Density Reduce Fracture Risk Look and Feel Great