Open your Hips by Cheryl Stevens

Tight hips are a modern day phenomenon. Wondering if you have them? Chances are you do' and your job is to blame! Why do we have such tight hips you ask?  It's due to our hip flexors shortening throughout the day as a result of sitting for long periods of time. Whether it's at your desk, in the car or in front of the TV we are spending too much time sitting and being stationary.
Added to that are many of the sports we do today like running and cycling that further shorten our leg muscles and make the hips even tighter. When you sit a lot, your body is in a specific position: knees are bent at 90 degrees, your hips are flexed at 90 degrees, the pelvis is tucked, your arms are internally rotated and your head is forward. Start to think of exercise that takes your body out of this position. Sadly, cycling and most gym equipment keep you in that same knees bent, hips flexed, forward shoulders position. Instead, activities like walking, swimming, yoga and dancing all encourage hip extension ' which is what your body needs most to counteract the effects of all that sitting. Find some new moves this year and besides getting healthy, have fun and make friends along the way. If you are in a desk job and sit all day, try a few easy changes through the day to combat stiffness: '       Get up and walk around every 20 ' 30 minutes. '       Take the stairs '       Stand or walk around when talking on the phone '       Have a standing meeting '       At the photocopier balance on one leg (discreetly!) '       Stand in front of the rubbish bin and lift your leg up to rest on the lip of the bin. Ensure the standing leg is straight and strong. Swap legs. '       Practice perfect posture in your chair. '       Don't cross your legs when sitting '       Sitting with your buttocks heavy in your chair, twist your spine to the right and hold onto the arm of chair. Hold for a few breaths and repeat on the left. Keep the spine long and tall throughout the twist. '       Take both arms up overhead and stretch towards the ceiling, keeping the buttocks grounded to the chair. Look up to the ceiling if the neck is strong enough. '       Sitting at your desk with your legs under the desk, raise one leg so the foot is parallel to the knee. Hold. See if you can lift the foot higher than the knee, but watch out for the desk!  Repeat on other side. Thinking of a new exercise routine for 2016? Try dancing. Dance is a great way to get fit, get those hips moving, become active and join a group. Belly Dancing Belly dancing puts the joints and ligaments in the lower back and hips through a full range of gentle, repetitive motions. The muscles surrounding the hip are used and exercised during hip drops and circles. Belly dancing is great for burning calories, toning muscles and mental clarity. It aids digestion and promotes better sleep. Pole Dancing When people think of fitness they rarely think of pole dancing. Not only is it a great way to embrace your inner sexiness, but it also has numerous health benefits. Pole dancing focuses on strengthening the muscles and developing strong bones and connective tissue. There is no impact on the joints in pole dancing and it promotes increased joint mobility. Mobility and flexibility are key benefits. Latin and Ballroom Dancing Sexy up your hips with Latin dancing hip gyrations. Salsa, the Tango, the Rumba and all Latin dancing requires healthy strong joints and muscles. The hip work in Latin dancing is smooth and sleek requiring balance and strength. The mental alertness and concentration required in a dance routine is great exercise for the brain, keeping it stimulated and working. Traditional ballroom dancing may appeal to an older audience, but don't under estimate the fitness required for these disciplines.  Ballroom dancing requires agility and grace which come through fitness, joint mobility, muscle strength and cardio fitness. Adult Ballet For those who always wanted to, but never did, now is the time to take up ballet.  More and more dance studios offer adult ballet. For an adult beginner, a ballet workout will improve posture and alignment. This helps grace and ease of movement and improves balance which is vital in more mature students. Ballet requires extension and length of muscle and ligaments. Ballet strengthens and tones the core muscles, the stomach and back and brings mobility and health to the joints. DID YOU KNOW? Ballet is a strengthening exercise for the whole body, including the legs, buttocks, lower and upper back and muscles of the feet.  Traditional ballet exercises require rising onto the balls of the feet, turning the leg at the hip socket and holding high leg extensions to the front and side of the body.  This will build strength and flexibility in the hip, lower leg, ankle and foot. Yoga Yoga is all about extension. No matter which type of yoga you choose, it is about creating length in the muscles and joints. Yoga requires deep core strength to be able to execute an asana (posture) and hold the asana with ease, for a period of time.  Yoga is a sequence of asana's that take the body into a variety of shapes and out of the traditional seated shape. Placing your body and limbs in unusual shapes, brings blood and oxygen to the joints and muscles, creates strength and flexibility in the joints and an excellent mental awareness of the body. HII High-Intensity Interval Training was the biggest craze of 2015. From Boot camps, indoor cycling and rowing, boxing and burpies, the idea of giving it all, then resting, then repeating has proven to burn calories and burn fat. Choose a Boot camp in your neighbourhood and start your day outside in nature with your community.   Did you know? Our body has 360 joints in total and the hip joint is one of the most important in the human body. It is one of the strongest and most secure joints in the body that allows us to walk, run, and jump. It carries the body's weight and endures considerable strain during daily activates like walking. Yet the hip joint is also one of our most flexible joints and allows a greater range of motion than all other joints in the body except for the shoulder.

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