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The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter, Issue #325. A Tranquil Mind
June 15, 2022

A Tranquil Mind

In the pre-steroid days of muscle magazine publishing, Bob Hoffman used to write in Strength & Health about a balanced life and the ancient Greek philosophy of moderation in all things. One of the tenets of good mental and physical health was what he termed “the maintenance of a tranquil mind.”

When was the last time you read anything about fitness that included information about the importance of a tranquil (calm) mind? Not recently, I’ll bet. But please stick with me. It’s an important subject.

Fast-forward to today. With 24/7 news cycles and daily doses of life’s ugliness, it’s natural to wonder if maintaining a tranquil mind is even possible. Yet for long-term good health, somehow it has to be. But how? Peaceful walks in the woods or at the shore can be great for recharging your batteries, but such places aren’t always available. In their place, short-term breaks from life’s negativity must replace them. We have to set aside brief periods of calmness. The practice of something like Tai Chi or the stretching poses of Yoga or Qi Gong can provide the calming of rushed and hurried minds. Such relaxation following workouts is one ideal time to ease into a calmer state of mind.

Post-workout stretching, for example, has two primary purposes. The first is to relax mind and body. The second is to increase or retain flexibility and range of motion, something very important as we age.

Think about how many of us rush to the gym, then rush to change clothes, hit the weights, and then rush into the street traffic home. Rush, rush, rush. When instead a few minutes invested in calming down following workouts would be time well spent.

Here are a few thoughts on relaxed stretching:

  • You don’t need to be a contortionist to get the benefits of stretching.

  • Practice dynamic or static movements. To simplify those terms, dynamic stretching means there is more movement involved, such as in Tai Chi, Pilates, and some forms of Yoga. Static stretching refers to the stretch-and-hold types, as in most Yoga practices.

  • A third form is ballistic stretching, which is characterized by rapid and sometimes jerky or bouncy movements. It is not appropriate for a workout cooling-off period or to calm jangled nerves.

The stretches I like, personally, are a mixture of movements I’ve learned over the years through weight training, martial arts, and Qi Gong. Whatever type you prefer, the following is sound advice.

Don’t force your stretching. Relax into a stretch. That means go only to the edge of discomfort. Then back off just a bit and hold there for a moment, allowing your body to relax. Be soft. By not forcing yourself to go further, your muscles will relax and you will find that you can — softly — move further into your stretch than you thought possible. Now hold for a bit.

Focus on your breathing, by softly inhaling and exhaling from deep within. If you focus only on your breath negative thoughts dissipate. Your heart rate slows and blood pressure drops.

This is the sort of calmness break that one’s mind and body craves.

For more stretching and relaxation information, please go here.

Stay healthy. Stay fit.


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The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to subscribers. The purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.

I have never been paid or received compensation of any kind to write a positive review or endorse a product. If I say that I personally use a product or service, it is because I find value in it and have paid for it with my own money.

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The newsletter and website provide information to help users establish and maintain a fitness lifestyle. But fitness information is not the same as fitness advice, which is the application of exercise and dietary practices to an individual's specific circumstances. Therefore, always consult with your physician for assurance that fitness information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate for you.

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Logan Franklin
The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter

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