Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Streeeeeetch Your Life

Before I take my daily walk, I do something that has helped me avoid injury, remain fit, and extend my lifetime warranty.

I STRETCH.

I perform a series of quick and simple stretching exercises that work all the muscles of my legs, from calf to hamstring. Watch this video to see my complete stretching routine.

STRETCH YOUR BODY

I have been on a steady exercise and walking program for decades and during that time I have not had one leg cramp or pulled muscle or any number of the injuries associated with the wear and tear of persistent pavement-pounding. Why? Because stretching works. Stretching warms up and loosens muscles and joints, better preparing you for the task at hand.


But don’t stop with merely stretching your legs or other body parts. Stretch the rest of your TRIAD (Mind, Body, Spirit).

I’ve demonstrated several ways how to stretch the BODY, now lets:

STRETCH YOUR MIND

I often stress the importance of feeding your brain as much intelligent food (data) as possible. All too often, the mind is consuming too much junk food, or bad data. We all know what happens, physically, when you eat too much junk food: you gain weight, consuming too much sodium, cholesterol, saturated fats and sugars, which causes heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and other health problems.

Instead, stretch your mind, feeding it good, healthy foods (data):

* Read, every day (“A Book a Week is All I Ask“). Stretch your mind by reading diverse topics, explore your weak areas that need developing, spanning all genres, utilizing every media available: newspapers, magazines, novels, non-fiction, self-help, how-to, blogs, and websites.

* Learn a musical instrument or a foreign language. This exercises different parts of your brain, stretching you further.

* Continue your formal education. Full-time or part-time, go for that AA, or BA, or BS, or MBA, or PhD. This will not only stretch your mind, but it’s also a valuable career asset.

* Pursue your autodidactic education.
An autodidact is a self-taught person, someone who continues his or her education through methods other than formal schooling. Never in history has there been more opportunity or information at your fingertips than today.

Stretch your mind, read every day, learn something new, explore the oceans of data available only a mouse-click away, while avoiding all the negative, unproductive junk food (data) that same mouse-click away. Your brain with benefit, just like your body, in the long run.

STRETCH YOUR SPIRIT

Spiritual fulfillment, or happiness, or just contentment, especially during challenging times like these, is as difficult to attain as it is essential in becoming he complete person we all strive to be.

If you possess great physical strengths and an exceptional intellect, yet remain unhappy, your Triad of Balance is lacking, incomplete. Besides feeling the pain of being out of balance, your are also spiritually bereft.

Stretch yourself spiritually:

* Give to charities, volunteer your time to worthy causes. By helping those less fortunate than yourself, you help yourself.

* Join local clubs or groups where you can interact with like-minded thinkers. Sharing thoughts, mingling, talking and laughing in a community setting go a long way toward improving your mental, happy health.

* Meditate, practice yoga. Relax the soul, and the body and mind will follow.

* Be positive, all the time. Easier said than done, but well worth the conscious effort.

*Perform random acts of kindness. Sometimes just a smile can make someone’s day.

* Believe in the goodness in yourself, and the basic goodness in the world.

* Keep the faith.

Stretching is good for you. On those days when I do not feel like taking my walk or exercising, I still put on my shorts or sweats and slowly ease my body into my stretches…and soon I begin to feel the soothing, comfortable healthy ache that motivates me into action.

Make stretching your Mind and Spirit as much of an everyday activity as stretching your Body.

The benefits will far outweigh the effort.

Until next time…

peace,

Mike

26 comments:

HEALTH NUT WANNABEE MOM said...

You have really motivated me! I have a lot of stretching to get started on. Very inspirational!

Karen & Gerard Zemek said...

Great thoughts here, Mike. I find myself still learning all the time. There's is just so much to learn about, no one will ever run out of new things to learn! It amazes me when I think about that and realize that God knows all there is to know about EVERYTHING!

B. Rene Williams said...

This lifted my spirits today. Thanks, Mike, for such great ideas.

PaulsHealthBlog.com said...

I played football in high school and college. Of course, we were all the time stretching.

But I never thought about stretching in terms of your mind as well as your spirit.

Good, thought provoking stuff, Mike.

melai said...

Hi! I've watched your videos and i swear I did what you were doing while wathing it and it was fun :)

I don't get a lot of exercise these days and cleaning and doing stuff at home (that's my job) are not really an exercise.

yeah, you're right we need stretching..in all areas of our body, including our brain :)

Thanks to this.

Wayne said...

I stretch my mind every day at work and believe me, it's been stretched thin...

Spiritually though, I never thought of giving to charities as stretching the spirit, but I guess that could be considered that huh?

Very thoughtful post, I like it!

Dan Brantley said...

All your points are well aken, as usual. Spekaing on ly of the physical aspect of stretching, I have noticed older folks seem to have trouble both with balance and flexibility. Stretching can help with both of these.
(I have added your site to my Sources blogroll)

Patricia said...

This is one of your best posts ever. I like how you have simplified so many complicated elements of our lives with these three lists. Thanks!

Daisy said...

I really liked this post! Stretching feels good, too.

Eric S. said...

Mike, I think this may be one of my favorite posts of yours. Stretching the mind is so important, yet overlooked so often. Too many times I have seen people allow their mind to go stagnant like the waters of a still pool.

I am constantly reading, and researching ideas and concepts that interest me. I often venture into areas that I have in the past considered boring or of no importance to me. 9 times out of 10, I find myself becoming interested in the subject as I learn more about it.

I am probably 85 percent autodidactly educated. Every person has a learning style. Some are auditory, some visual, some digitally (hands on, not computer) and some literary. I learn best by reading and doing. I have taught myself many things just by picking up a book and reading it.

I am not discounting the other areas of your triad you must stretch, just highlight the area I feel is most important to me.

I have a quote from one of my favorite books that I am quite fond of. "Knowledge and education is priceless, a persons money or material possessions can be lost or stolen. Your knowledge can never taken from you. Even if give of your own free will, you still retain it." The Walking Drum by Louis L'Amour.

Mike Foster said...

heidi: good luck stretching!

karen, amp, gerard: Agreed. I love learning new things, my mind is like a sponge...

b. rene: Lifting spirits is my middle name...actually, it's Robert.

paul: stretching before sports, like football, help reduce injuries. I like to think that when we also stretch our minds and souls, we're kind of doing the same thing...

melai: I've done those leg stretches so many times...ahhhh, but they work! glad you had some fun...

wayne: work does have a way of stretching all the stretch out of our brains...that's why it's also good to stretch the rest of your self...

dan: excellent point: proper stretching, along with keeping active, and starting as early as possible, greatly reduces problems when one gets older

patricia: you don't know how warm and fuzzy your kinds words made me feel, given how much I respect your feedback and enjoy your writing.

daisy: you cats are some of the all-time greatest streeeeeeetchers!

eric: guess what? That comment may be one of my favorites! Very thoughtful, insightful, and spot on. Words of wisdom from a fellow autodidact...and great quote!

TMinut said...

This is truly a great post! Just last night I was trying to think of how to get my homeschooled son into society a bit - it struck me hard to realize he's never been involved in helping anyone really. Then I came here today and read your post about stretching your spirit. Timely. Of course, this is really a 'timeless' message anyway.

Robin Easton said...

This is a very cool post Mike. I just Stumbled it. What I like about it is that is touches on many aspects of healing/living a better life and is a good place to start for those wanting to change their live. I also watched your stretching video, very natural and fun. It's something I will come back to and start using before I hike. There is wonderful warmth about your site that makes it and you more approachable.

Tom Thorne said...

I like your comment abou being positive "easier said than done but well worth the effort". We have to keep thinking positively about our health habits too, i.e. diet and exercise. It's easy to get iscouraged and not exercise for a day or two or a week or a month. We need to keep positive thoughts about the end results - good health, feeling better, stronger, etc.

betchai said...

thanks for the reminder, Mike. this is something that i know will help me a lot, but a lot of times, in my excitement whenever we reach the trailhead, i would just proceed wihtout stretching :( and stretch only after :( unless i do my exercises at home or in the gym, then, i remember to stretch first. stretching the mind and spirit is my favorite :)

Evelyn Lim said...

I learn a new word here today: autodidactic education. I realize that I have a strong thirst for knowledge and learning. I've chosen to try a lot of different areas of healing modalities. And my journey has been pretty rich as a result!

Thanks! I definitely second the idea of stretching ourselves!

Mitch said...

I don't come close to stretching my body enough, but I seem to be stretching my mind all the time, to the extent that it hurts sometimes. lol

Jack said...

Great post! I just received a comment from you on my blog (Simple Sapien) and decided to come take a look over here. I love what I see so far!

Staying positive all the time... that is definitely one I need to work on. It is all too easy to get caught up in negativity and bring yourself down for no reason.

Thanks for the inspiring post. And thanks for your comment, talk to ya soon!

- Jack Rugile
SimpleSapien.com

Mike Foster said...

tminut: good luck with your son; interaction in groups (sports, clubes) is also quite helpful

Robin: thanks, I enjoy creating my videos and appreciate when they help others...

tom: I am the first to promote being positive, but still need a pep talk every now and then

betchai: I learned my lesson about not stretching the hard way, now it's become habit

evelyn lim: sounds like you're an autodidac already

mitch: I feel your pain, man...

jack: it's always great discovering new blogs, like I did yours, and now you mine...thanks.


and thanks for all the wonderful comments...

peace,

Mike

Mark Salinas said...

A fantastic post! I need to streeeeetch my mind more. Thanks for sharing!

bartolomo said...

Mike,
Thanks for visiting my blog. Good article on stretching. I agree with the mental aspects of stretching 100%. BUT, as a runner, I never stretch before running. It's a personal preference, of course, and I see many more runners who do stretch. I've read both positives and negatives on pre-run stretching. Now, as a technique onto it's own, I think it is desirable. In fact, I know I don't do enough stretching. So thanks for making me think about it again....

Mike Foster said...

mark: thank you, mark, nice praise coming from you, you have a great site

bartolomo: it is up to each individual...I need it, since I am old...


peace,

mike

Natural said...

Nice Post Mike. I need to stretch mind and body.

I'm supposed to stretch my back everyday, I don't. :(

Faisal Admar said...

i will start playing badminton next week and read more books =)

great post!

judith said...

Great article, thanks. My husband is always trying new things, he loves learning, I wish I was like him.

yuwab said...

What a great post, completely true. Stretching the mind is easier than ever, like you say. There is so much information available at our fingertips, and constant learning can be so fulfilling