What are the benefits of yoga for physical fitness?
If you’ve ever attended a yoga class, you are well familiar with the blissful emotional benefits of regular yoga practice.
Whenever I step out of a yoga class I feel so relaxed and serene. It’s almost the same feeling that you have when you’ve come back from holiday.
But did you know that yoga also has numerous physical benefits? Recent research shows that yoga may also improve muscular strength, lung capacity and aerobic capacity – 3 of the main indicators of physical fitness.
The benefits of yoga for physical fitness
Yoga is very beneficial for your physical fitness levels. Not only does it reduce stress levels, but it also makes your whole body fitter and ensures longevity.
In a recent study, the University of California at Davis tested the muscular strength,cardiorespiratory fitness and lung function of students after 8 weeks of regular yoga practise.
After 8 weeks the student’s muscular strength increased by 31%, flexibility by 188% and VO2max by 7%. This just proves that yoga is very beneficial for increasing physical fitness levels.
Yoga can increase your respiratory fitness levels
What is respiratory fitness?
Respiratory fitness refers to the fitness of your heart, lungs and blood vessels.
The better your respiratory fitness levels, the lower your risk for numerous diseases like heart diseases, cancer and diabetes.
It’s measured by your VO2max (maximum oxygen intake), a technical term that indicates how efficiently oxygen enters your lungs and is used by your muscles. The more fit you are, the more efficiently your body transports and uses oxygen.
The evidence and benefit
A recent study done at the Ball State University looked at how 15 weeks of twice-weekly yoga classes affected the lung capacity of 287 college students. At the end of the students all of the students involved, including athletes, asthmatics, and smokers showed a significant improvement in lung capacity by the end of the study.
Yoga poses may increase your lung capacity by improving the flexibility of your rib area,back and shoulders, allowing your lungs to expand more efficiently. Correct yoga breathwork may further boost your lung capacity and VO2max; making it very important for you to also practise breathing.
Regular Yoga sessions may improve your muscular strength
What is muscular fitness?
Your muscular fitness levels refers to your muscular strength (how heavy and object you can lift) and muscular endurance (for how long you can lift it). Increased muscular fitness increases your balance and coordination and keeps your body strong and fit.
The evidence and benefit
Many yoga poses, particularly standing poses, inversions and balancing poses builds a lot of strength because they require sustained contractions of many large and small muscles. And many of the poses are hold for an increased time which increases this training effect. I’ve also seen the proof of this benefit in my own yoga practise. The more I practise yoga, the longer I am able to hold a pose and with less effort.
Yoga is very effective for increasing flexibility and balance
What is flexibility fitness?
Flexibility is an important indicator of your fitness levels and health. It increases your range of motion, lengthens your muscles and prevent stiffness of connective tissue. Increased flexibility promotes optimal movement of your knees, shoulders, elbows, spine and other joints. Loss of flexibility is often associated with an increased risk of injury and pain.
The evidence and benefit
Yoga stretches the muscles and is excellent for increasing your flexibility. As an added benefit, your muscles responds to stretching by becoming larger and capable of extracting more oxygen. This lead to increased muscle strength and endurance.
As you can see, yoga holds many more benefits than just stress release. To fully benefit from these benefits and to increase your fitness levels, make sure that you take a regular yoga class at least twice a week. Look for classes that includes a balance of poses along with breath work and meditation for maximum benefit. I particularly prefer Iyengar yoga as it’s a nice mixed balance of yoga poses, breath work and meditation.
I like the medicine ball for 3 reasons – it’s small and compact to take anywhere, it makes your workouts more challenging and interesting and it’s a great alternative to weights.
A medicine ball is also the perfect tool to tone your core and abs with. It’s more effective than using body weight and more convenient than using free weights.
Just grab yourself a medium sized medicine ball and do these 3 exercises 2-3 times a week together with your lower or upper body workout and you will soon have abs to show off.
The top 3 medicine ball exercises for a strong and attractive core
These 3 exercises uses the medicine ball and will help you to build a strong core, lose fat and even improve your sports performance.
All Around Circle
This is one of my favorite medicine ball exercises. It’s very easy to do and it works wonders for your core.
You start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent. Hold a medicine ball and extend your arms directly over your head. Rotate your arms counterclockwise without bending your elbows.
Use the ball to draw large imaginary circles in front of your body. Do 10 circles, reverse the direction (to clockwise) and do 10 circles more.
The Wood chopper
The Wood Chopper exercise is a great all-over body toner and also offers a great cardio workout.
Here’s how you do it: Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width apart. Hold a medicine ball above your head with your arms nearly straight. Bend forward at the waist and mimic throwing the medicine ball towards the back through your legs; holding onto the ball at all times. Reverse the movement quickly and with the same intensity return to the starting position.
That’s one rep. Repeat 10-20 times or more if you like.
I also like to do the partner medicine ball toss exercise when I can get a chance to train with a partner. It’s also very effective for your abs and will help to burn fat quickly.
Partner toss medicine ball exercise
You will need a partner or at the very least a wall to do this exercise. You start in the sit-up position. Your partner stands in front of you and holds the medicine ball. He then throws the medicine ball at you. You grab the ball, take it over your head and go down in the sit-up position. As you come up (with straight arms) up you throw the ball back at your partner.
Just make sure to take it gently with these exercises so that you don’t get hurt. And never use a medicine ball that is too heavy for you. If you do this medicine ball exercises regularly, you will soon get flat abs to be proud off. Just include weight training and cardio workouts as well and watch your diet.
Do I Really Need Specialized Shoes For Walking, Running, Tennis, Basketball, And So On?
There are various types of shoes out there in the market; but do you really need special ones for walking, running, tennis, basketball or any other activity? The answer is YES.
The manufacturers of the shoes design them for particular activity and include those features that are vital to offer the best comfort for that activity.
In general, these shoes are referred to as the athletic shoes. It may not be very easy to choose from the very many different types of shoes that are available.
There are various differences in the design as well as variations in weight and materials. These differences are deliberately and purposely created so as to protect those areas of the feet that experience the highest point of stress and impact in the specified athletic activity. This means that a shoe that is designed for walking for example may not be suited for running.
A walking shoe needs to have smooth tread, comfortable soft upper, rocker sole design and excellent absorption of shock.
The combined effect of these features is that the shoe encourages the feet to roll naturally while in the walking motion.
A jogging shoe needs to have the features of good traction, light in weight, flexible, cushioned, maximum stability and control especially within the heel counter area.
The sports shoes for volleyball, basketball or tennis are designed with special features to offer comfort and stability to the athlete.
Most of the court sports need the body to move backward, side-by-side, and even forward.
In consequence, these shoes are subjected to a lot of pressure and heavy abuse. These shoes have very tough sole that is capable of resisting and withstanding the great impact.
When choosing the shoes for sports, it is recommended that you ask the coach to help and advise you on the selection of the best type of the shoe sole for the type of sport that you intend to participate in.
The shoes for the filed sports such as baseball, football or soccer are spiked, studded or cleated. The stud and spike formation may vary from one sport to the other but in general they have studs, spikes or cleats that are detachable or replaceable and which are fixed in to the soles that are mostly made of nylon.
The shoes for the winter sports such as cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, ice hockey or figure skating are designed such that they are resistant to water and moisture. This does not mean that they are waterproof; they only have the capability of resisting the water. They are also designed such that they provide ample support to the ankles.
The shoes for the field and track sports are available various designs in order so suit the specific needs and interests of the athletes. There are many choices depending on the foot types, training styles and the gait patterns you need to seek the advice and guidance of your coach on those shoes that are best suited for the type of activity that you want to engage in.
Based on the foregoing, there is great need for the specialized shoes of the various types of sporting and field activities such as walking, running, tennis, basketball, and so on.
Is The Elliptical Machine Just As Good As Running?
If it is for the first time that you need to purchase fitness equipment you may have many questions regarding the elliptical machine.
Some of the people end up asking themselves whether this machine is as good as running. Before we find out whether or not it is as good as running, let’s first define what the elliptical trainer is. This is basically as machine that stands on the floor.
It has some similarities to the treadmill. However, where as the treadmill machines uses flat track that rolls backwards, the elliptical trainer as foot pedals which are designed in a way that thy move in patterns that are coordinated and which simulate running. Some of the elliptical machines also feature hand grips which move forth and back simultaneously with the foot pedals so as to replicate the cross-country skiing.
The modern elliptical machines also have excellent programming that is built in to the dash board not to mention the heart rate monitors and the variable resistance programs.
The elliptical trainer has very many benefits. It is a great choice for those people that may in one way or another may have limited capacities because of their physical activities.
It is also recommend to those people that are at the risk of developing some other conditions later in their lives.
The elliptical training does not have high impact as running by the road or at the field. In this regard, it has the effect of protecting the joints while at the same time strengthening the muscles and bones. The elliptical machines however provide activity that is more guided than the treadmill machine or running.
This means that the machine is good for those people that may have problems of coordination and balance.
I for those people that do not like the high impact to the muscles because or running in the field, the elliptical machines may not be the ideal choice.
This is so because; while the elliptical machine offers protection to the joints, it at the same time provides reasonable amount of resistance. This makes it possible for the more burning of calories in only one single workout.
The people that like the challenges of the high resistance can increase the level of resistance of the elliptical trainer by simply pressing some few adjustment buttons.
Most of the people that routinely work out love the versatility and challenge of the variable resistance.
Some of the modern elliptical machines have incline features that are variable such that the machine slant goes downwards and upwards.
Various studies have been conducted so as to find out the similarities and differences of the elliptical machine and running. It has been found that there are some similarities as well as some differences.
The main difference is that the elliptical machine does not offer the great impact as the real running out there in the field or by the road.
Because of this reason, you should not engage in full time exercises on the treadmill. You should engage in the outdoor running of you need to get the high impact.