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The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter, Issue #353. Pressure, pressure, pressure!
August 01, 2023

Pressure, Pressure, Pressure!

In the early (pre-steroid) days of muscle magazine publishing, Bob Hoffman would often write in Strength & Health about a balanced life. He told about the ancient Greek philosophy of moderation in all things. And one of his tenets of good mental and physical health was what he termed the "maintenance of a tranquil mind.”

Of course, that was many, many decades ago.

Let’s fast-forward to today. With 24/7 news cycles and daily bombardments of life’s discords and ugliness, we have to sometimes wonder if a tranquil mind is even possible. Yet for long-term good health, somehow it has to be. Peaceful walks in the woods or at the shore can be great for recharging one’s batteries, but such places are not always nearby.

In their place, regular short-term breaks from negativity must replace them. We must set aside time each day for mind and body relaxation by allocating regular brief periods of calmness. The practices of something like Tai Chi or the stretching poses of Yoga or Qi Gong are excellent for the calming of rushed and hurried minds.

Each provides gentle stretching, which has two primary purposes. The first is to relax one’s mind and body. The second is to increase or retain flexibility and range of motion.

We often shortchange ourselves by not taking a little time to stretch and relax after workouts. Instead, we rush to the gym, quickly change clothes, hit the weights, and then rush into street traffic driving home. Rush, rush, rush. When a few minutes invested in calming mind and body 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. Stretching is not a competitive sport.
  • 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. This is not appropriate for a workout cooling-off period or to calm jangled nerves.

Don’t force your stretching. Relax into a stretch. That means going 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.

Calm your mind and relax your muscles by focusing on your breath, by softly inhaling and exhaling from deep within. Listen only to your breathing . . . and feel any negative thoughts dissolve, as your heart rate slows and blood pressure drops.

These are the calmness breaks that our minds and bodies crave.

For more stretching and relaxation information, please go here.

Stay Healthy. Stay fit.


Senior Exercise Central

Photographs: Subscribers have asked when the newsletter photo at the top of the page and my website pictures were taken. The photos were taken when I was a mere 70. I’m 86 years old now. Though I remain active, I am no longer nearly as muscular as I was 16 years ago. —LF

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Newsletter Policy

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.

Like newspapers, magazines, and television, this newsletter and my website contain advertising and marketing links. Naturally, I am compensated for these.

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.

Your comments and questions are always appreciated. Simply click on the "Reply" bottom.


Logan Franklin
The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter

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