Mind and body - Take these ‘S's into account

STABILITY: It is very much part of a fitness plan, because this activity combines reflexes, hand-eye coordination and muscle strength.  

Whatever your exercise personality, you must include the 4 S's into your routine. Say, for example, you are a walking enthusiast — you can power walk to build your stamina and endurance, walk uphill to strengthen the leg muscles and increase bone density and improve suppleness by warm-up and cool-down stretches before and after walking. Stability can be achieved through yoga asanas or by trying to balance by walking on a narrow pavement, or an uneven nature trail.


Stamina, or endurance, is developed when the body moves in a rhythmic and continuous manner, using the large muscle groups in the body. You get this kind of exercise when you jog, run, skip, jump, or play sports such as swimming, cricket, tennis or squash. These are excellent exercises for improving heart health, because the aerobic activity gets your heart to deliver more oxygen to cells within the body.

Heart of the matter

The heart is a muscular organ located in the chest, or thoracic cavity, diagonally behind the breastbone. Similar to a clenched fist in shape and size, this small organ contracts 100,000 times a day and pumps five to six litres of blood every minute.

How does exercise strengthen the heart?

Exercise makes the heart stronger and helps it to pump more blood with each heartbeat. A well-conditioned heart pumps more blood with fewer heartbeats, while a heart with less aerobic conditioning is not as efficient. During vigorous exercise, blood is pumped at a much quicker rate — blood can circulate up to 20 times faster than normal.


Strength exercises keep your bones and muscles strong. When you sit upright and walk tall, your confidence level increases. An effective strength routine would include exercises that target the major muscle groups of the upper body, mid section and lower body. The simplest and safest way to improve muscle strength is to use your own body weight as resistance.

Bare bone facts

The framework of human skeleton comprises 206 bones. Bones need calcium to grow and stay strong. Strength exercises improve calcium absorption in the bones, and regular exercise actually results in increased bone density.

Will I benefit from strength training? What about weight training?

Strength training exercises, using your own body weight, are ideal. Execute pull-ups, push-ups and squats to tone up and shape and sculpt your figure — you will look good, feel great!

A note of caution here. Adolescents should avoid lifting heavy weights. Power lifting and body building are also best avoided until your turn 16, at least. This is because any injury to the growth plate or epiphyseal plate can create a risk to developing bones.


Stretching exercises improve suppleness, allowing your body to bend and move easily through its full range of motion. These exercises promote relaxation, enhance exercise performance and keep your body agile. Remember, even when you bend down to tie a shoelace, your body is being stretched!

If you are a typical teenager, chances are you stoop or slouch. Not only does stretching make you more flexile, it also keeps your muscles better coordinated, helping to correct posture problems. And, the bonus? Good posture knocks a few kilos off your frame — you look leaner, fitter, more sculpted — simply by sitting or standing straight!

Stretch the benefits

Stretching also prevents common sports injuries. Examples are back stiffness associated with hockey, sore shoulders, common with sports such as tennis, or tight leg muscles, a result of running or playing squash.

Stretch smoothly, never bounce.

Breathe slowly, deeply and naturally.

Remain relaxed and feel the stretch.


Stability, or balance training, is not something you would generally think about. But it is very much part of a fitness plan, because this activity combines reflexes, hand-eye coordination and muscle strength. Sports of all types require a sense balance, whether it is clearing a hurdle, roller-blading, cycling, or even reaching out to catch a ball.

Benefits of balance training

Improves functional stability for daily activities

Improves coordination

Enhances neuromuscular awareness

Increases strength

The writer is a certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 8:28:52 AM |

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