Stretch, bend and squat

Posted on: 3rd August, 2017

Category: Sport & Fitness

Contributor: West Cork People

Danish freelance journalist and fitness professional Tania Presutti, who now resides in Clonakilty, delivers a series of efficient DIY fitness exercises you can do at home.

It could sound like a headline from the new ’Movement’ fitness fad, but in reality, this was a phrase I would hear almost every day as a toddler.  As I mentioned in my column last month, the Danish national radio would every day at noon broadcast a five minute ‘pause-gymnastic’ (that’s what they called it) session. I don’t think this was part of a national scheme to get the Danes more interested in health and fitness as we know it today, but more a part of the national identity and was seen as part of the public service that the national radio provided along with the news and entertainment.

My grandma was a very active woman right up until her too-early demise. She would bike around her neighborhood every day, do her senior gymnastic class once a day every week and, for as long as the Danish radio were broadcasting the show, she would let go of whatever knitting, sewing or reading she was doing and stand up and do the ‘Stretch and bend’ routine to the sound a male voice guiding the movements and counting the repetitions. As she would babysit me from time to time, it was natural for me, to try and imitate the movements she did, and I suspect, also giving her a good laugh between the bends and stretches.

So in this month’s column, I will try and recall a five-minute session, and if you are looking for something easy, but still beneficial for your health, this could be the answer. Now these sessions I assume, weren’t supposed to make you bigger or stronger, or lose weight or inches. Rather they were designed to promote overall wellness, body awareness and promote the idea of a healthy mind in a healthy body.

So with this introduction, here is a short sequence of exercises you can do every day to boost the wellness of body and mind.

Start by standing up on the floor, with a bit of space around you. Shoulder width between your feet, straight back and arms relaxed down the sides of your body.

Now start stretching your left arm up. Point your fingers towards the ceiling and bend slightly at the hip so you feel the stretch down the side of your body. Switch to your right arm and repeat, three times to each side.

Lift both hands above your head, get up on your toes, stretch your full body and pretend you’re picking cherries. Do five to 10 picks with each hand.

Stretch out your arms in front of you with the palms facing each other. Open up (pretend to give a big hug) wide and stretch your chest. Keep your arms straight and let your shoulder blades meet on the back. Do this five times.

Go back to your starting position, but put your left hand on your hip. Bend as far as you can to the left and raise and ‘hang’ your right arm above your head to help stretch and bend. Switch to your right side and repeat three to five times each side.

From start position, put both hands on your hips and rotate the hips in big circles. Five circles to the left and five circles to the right. Overdo the circle movement so you get your hip, lower back and ‘corset’ muscles moving.

Move to start position again, this time stretch your arms above your head. Let your hands fall gently towards the floor, by bending over at the hip (try to keep your legs straight here. Relax at the bottom of the movement for a breath, then rise up and stand up straight. Repeat five times.

Back in start position (maybe a little wider foot stance), stand straight up and reach your arms forward. Bend your knees to a squat and use your arms to balance going up and down. Squat down 10 – 15 times.

After, take one big step forward with your left leg. Bend the left knee and keep your right leg straight. Use the position to stretch your right leg. Switch to the other side and stretch your left leg. Switch sides five times.

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