24/02/2012 § Leave a comment
The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life
Image via the Library of Congress.
Day 24: Stretch!
Confession #1: While I did run the New York Marathon in 2010, 2011 found me a bit lackluster in my physical activities. I blame most of this on being burnt out after being in training for the better part of a year: working out six days a week with the occasional two-a-day, fanatically monitoring what I was eating and drinking, adjusting my social habits so that I could get as much sleep as possible, etc. While the experience of running the marathon was amazing — and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in it! — I did not come away from the experience with an addiction to long distance running. I like it, I even enjoy it…I don’t love it. I also attribute my lack of exercise to a shifting of priorities, new addictions (e.g., this silly blog), and changes in my personal life.
It’s funny how I know such changes are completely normal, but I still couldn’t help feeling a bit of guilt — especially when anyone would ask me if I had any races coming up, or called me a “marathon runner.” So if you read my resolutions for 2012, you will note that it is a goal of mine to run two half marathons this year. That’s ramping up slowly, and I am happy to report there is some progress on that front.
So what’s the point?
The point is that while I may not be similarly situated as I was last year to talk about exercise (which I continue to think is important!), I do want to talk about something related to the concept. It’s something even lazy bums like me can do without even breaking a sweat, that will improve your posture and your well-being: stretching.
Confession #2: I’m not very flexible. I never have been. I sucked at the sit and reach in grade school, I labor to touch my toes, and am atrocious at yoga. Even when I was at the height of my training, this did not markedly change for me. I like to blame it (nonsensically) on the fact that I am tall, but the truth is, some of us are just less flexible than others. While I may never see my way to doing the splits, flexibility is something that can be improved, if you work at it.
At the very least, you can wake up just a few minutes earlier in the morning to stretch out. No need for complex yoga routines if that’s not your thing, just make sure you are thorough, concentrating on any problem areas you might have. If you’re as non-flexible as I am, you might find a stretching strap will come in handy to help you deepen and hold your stretches. With just a few minutes of concerted effort, you can start your day feeling invigorated, possibly with a clearer mind. Maybe you won’t need that cup of coffee. Maybe.
Also take to heart that most of us sit at desks for the majority of the day, causing our posture to stiffen and slack: our backs hurt, our circulation gets pinched, and all sorts of other not so nice things happen. Stretching is an easy way to combat this — you’ll find it will easily fit into your workday while still at your desk and improve your energy.
Stretching is also especially important when you travel. No matter how foolish you think you might look, on long trips make sure you periodically rouse yourself for a quick stroll and stretch session. It is distinctly uncharming to arrive at your destination with aches or pains that will prevent you from embarking on your adventure, especially when they could have been easily prevented!