Physical Activity

STRETCH!

Sylvia Davis and Ann Centner (Family and Consumer Sciences Agents from Baker and Early counties) lead the coalition in stretching exercises at the August meeting. They shared the importance of stretching for our physical health. Below are some great tips and stretches!

Stretching should be an important part of your fitness routine. It improves your flexibility, enabling you to exercise better and avoid injury. Stretching reduces risk of injury by helping your joints to move through their full range of motion while increasing blood flow to your muscles.

Active stretching is when you get into a stretching position and hold it using only the strength of your muscles. For example, bringing your leg up and holding that pose without using your hand to hold your leg would be an active stretch.

If you held your leg up with your hand or rested your leg on a bar, it would be considered a passive stretch. Yoga is an example of an exercise that uses active stretching.

Active stretches can be harder to hold than passive stretches. Your goal is to hold an active stretch between 10 to 15 seconds. If that is too hard, decrease the intensity of the stretch or hold it for a shorter amount of time.

Do not bounce or pulse while you stretch. This increases your risk for tearing the muscle.

Try out these active stretches to improve your strength and flexibility:

Triceps Stretch

  1. Hold one arm up behind your head, bending your arm at the elbow.
  2. Flex your biceps muscles to stretch your triceps muscles.
  3. Repeat with the other arm.

 Quadriceps Stretch

You can also do the same stretch standing next to a wall.

  1. Lay on your left side.
  2. Bend your right knee behind you and grab your ankle.
  3. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
  4. Repeat 3 to 5 times with both legs.

Chest Stretch

  1. Hold your arms straight out to your sides.
  2. Flex your shoulders so that your arms move a little further behind you.

Sitting Toe Stretch

  1. Reach hands forward and stretch toward your toes. Keep breathing.
  2. Sit on the floor with your knees slightly bent.
  3. Hold 15-30 seconds.
  4. Repeat 3-5 times.

Physical Activity at School

The 4-H staff implemented an after-school fitness and nutrition 4-H club, which met for eight weeks and is continuing through the summer months. Ten youth attend regularly with a waiting list. Shanda Ashley, Calhoun County Extension coordinator and 4-H agent, teaches Yoga for Kids classes reaching 20 youths weekly. She uses 4-H Friends Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles and 4-H HOPE (Helping Other People Eat) lessons, reaching 220 students in schools. Lessons introduce youth to USDA’s My Plate concepts, the importance of drinking water and limiting sugar, portion control, increasing fruits and vegetables, reading food labels, and including physical activity every day.