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Your Health & Wellness, Iss #042 -- "How Is Your Leg Strength?" (You can find out by doing this)
April 10, 2009

(Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle)

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Week of April 12, 2009

Table of Contents

* "How Is Your Leg Strength?" (You can find out by doing this) *

"How Is Your Leg Strength?" (You can find out by doing this)

I know what you must be thinking. 'What does my leg strength have to do with anything?' In actuality, your leg strength can be an indicator of longevity (anti-aging.)

Longevity, or slowing down the aging process, depends on a number of factors. One is minimizing inflammation by getting plenty of antioxidants through fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants neutralize age and disease-promoting free radicals. Another factor is exercise. A sedentary lifestyle is a muscle wasting lifestyle. Loss of muscle tissue makes you susceptible to injury through falls and makes you a more likely target for chronic diseases such as cancer.

There is an old saying 'use it or lose it. If your muscles are not stressed through simple activities such as walking or playing sports, they will diminish in size. This is known as muscle atrophy.

Adequate leg strength, or lack thereof, can be demonstrated by the following exercise. Sit down. Now stand up. But first let me ask you a question. How do you normally stand up? If you are like the majority of people, you stand by either grabbing a chair's armrests and pushing down, or you push up from your lap. Or if you are really in bad shape, you kind of twist to one side, rock slightly, and push with all of your strength on the armrest while simultaneously forcefully exhaling.

I don't want you to do either. Stand up by crossing your arm across your chest (that way you can't stand by using your hands to assist you.) Next lean slightly forward and stand. (This way you are using your quadriceps or front leg muscles to push down.)

If you have successfully stood without using your hands, congratulations! If not, performing squats will allow you to build sufficient leg strength to enable you to stand using your legs alone.

A squat is just as the word says-you squat. Stand in front of a chair as though you were going to sit in it. Fold your arms across your chest. Now squat or begin sitting down. Without actually sitting down, stop just short of your buttocks making contact with the chair. At that point, stand erect.

Work yourself up to ten (10) squats in a row without stopping. This is known as a 'set.' Slowly work up to three (3) sets of ten (10) repetitions. Once you have become proficient, you can perform these squats without a chair. You can then add weight. Get a couple of 5 or 10 pound dumbbells. Hold one in each hand. With your arms at your sides, begin squatting.

As you get older, your body begins losing muscle mass. This is the major reason senior citizens wind up in nursing homes, or needing caregivers. You can circumvent that scenario by maintaining a physically active life.

Joseph Elijah Barrett.
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