February 6, 2014

Stuck in a traffic jam? Try these simple but effective exercises!

 Car exercise                                     Photo courtesy: BodyMindGreen
Imagine your self stuck in a traffic jam for 17 hours, roads closed  and an ice storm passing by. That's exactly how thousands of people in the Atlanta area must have felt during the recent ice storm that literally paralyzed not only the city, but a large part of the south. Here's how to turn tedious commutes, traffic jams and hours spent at your desk into exercise opportunities.

* Start at the top. Counteract the driver's slump (which also occurs at your desk) with a posture check. Keep your eyes on the road. Sit up straight, trying to "grow an inch" out of your seat by bringing your shoulders back. Lift your head so that your upper spine is erect and in more of a straight line. Retract your chin so that your ears are directly in line with your shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds while breathing in and out.

* Open your heart. Roll your shoulders up and then back while holding the steering wheel. (At your desk, let your arms and hands follow.) Gently pull your shoulder blades down and back toward your tailbone. "This movement helps reawaken those middle back muscles," Hagan says. It also helps loosen shoulder muscles, which tighten with stress.

* Let your navel kiss your spine. Tighten your abdominal muscles to scoop up your belly and pull in your waistline so that your navel moves toward your spine. "This takes the stress off the lower, lumbar spine," 

* Grab a ticket. No, not a traffic ticket, and don't use your hands for this. Imagine that you have a winning lottery ticket. Grasp it and hold it tightly between your cheeks while counting to 10. "And I'm not talking about your face, you will get rich in posture even if you are not winning the lottery." Doing this exercise helps counter the numbness in the large gluteal muscles in your posterior that occurs from prolonged sitting, whether in the car or at your desk. She also advises men to remove their wallets from their back pants pockets because sitting on them can add to the numbness and increase the risk of painful sciatica.

* Grip the wheel. Clench as tightly as possible, then release. At the same time, try to relax your shoulders and sit up straight. Repeat 30 times in about a minute. "Most people don't realize how hard they are gripping the wheel, this helps them relax and is also good for stress management."

* Work your pelvic floor. With age, added pounds and inactivity, the pelvic floor muscles grow limp. That increases the risk of both urinary and fecal incontinence. Do Kegel exercises throughout the day to counteract. Without using your derriere, draw up your pelvic muscles "from the ground floor to first floor, if you can, pull in your bellybutton. They work best together."



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