JFK - Public DomainIN HIS INAUGURAL Address, January 20, 1961, John F, Kennedy famously said…

“And so my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

Here are three things you can do to help your country and to help you. All three lead to a healthier you and cut health care costs which leads to a more healthy nation and economy.

  • Strengthen your abdominals so that you can do at least one bent knee sit-up with your feet held down and your hands behind your neck. Being able to do this means that you have the minimum abdominal strength needed for daily living. Daily living means just getting through the day. It doesn’t mean moving the piano.
  • Increase the flexibility of your back and hamstrings so that you are able to stand with feet together, knees straight and bend over and touch the floor with your fingertips. Not being able to touch the floor indicates tight low back and hamstrings as well as not enough exercise to offset the stress you are under.

Studies show that if you CAN’T do one sit up you have a 50% chance of having low back pain. If you CAN’T touch the floor you have 50% chance of having low back pain. If you can do neither you probably already have back pain OR you will have it before long.

If everyone in America was able to perform one sit up and a floor touch as described above, 85% of the backaches in America could be prevented. Think what that would mean to the healthcare system. Think of what it would mean in lost work days, spoiled vacations and do I dare say, limited love-making.

Policeman and IndianExercise Information for People with Common Sense.
We were born to move. Exercise is essential for healthy living. When common exercise sense is used there is an increase in strength and flexibility…without injury. It is not just the exercise you do that makes a difference, but the way in which you do it. If a muscle says, “Stop! This exercise is hurting me!” Stop! Always warm up with rhythmic easy swings, twists and bends. Stretch after your workout when your muscles are warm and pliable. Concentrate on what you are doing and feeling. Exercise is a communion between your mind, body and spirit.

  • WALK. One of the simplest things we can all do for ourselves and for our country is to move. One of the simplest, most accessible and least expensive forms of movement is walking.

But why walk and how does that help our country? UNhealth doesn’t feel good and is an economic burden to you and to others.

Until you can’t walk you don’t know what a priceless gift is the ability to get up and walk. And if you don’t believe me visit a nursing home. Those immobile shadows were once like you. NEVER stop moving.

Walking stimulates the mind. The purpose of walking is to get out of the house, relax and improve leg strength and circulation. Walking improves the muscles aiding in heart action.

If your job requires you to stand all day or to sit a lot, incorporate knee bends into your day. The legs act as an auxiliary pump for the heart. Gravity helps the heart push blood to the extremities by pulling it down, but it is no help at all when it comes to getting the blood back uphill again. It is the action of huge muscles of the legs — especially when you are walking with purpose — that help by squeezing the vessels carrying the blood both ways. If the muscles are firm and active, you get a good push. Hearts love healthy legs.

Sitting Up and Touching Down
To improve your abdominal strength and prevent low back pain, do the following exercises.

Abdominal ExercisesBent Knee Sitting Roll Downs, Arms Extended
Start at the top of the sit-up with legs slightly bent, head down, and back rounded. Extend both arms and roll slowly down. Pretend there is a button on each segment of your spine and try to feel each one as it touches the floor. Use your arms to get back up to the top of the sit-up. Do five daily. Note: if your legs are long and your torso short, this will be easy. If the opposite is true, put a weight on your feet.

Sit-Up with Ball Throw
Begin these after a week of Roll Downs. Start in the supine position with legs slightly bent. Pretend to hold a basketball in your outstretched hands. Throw the imaginary basketball across the room with all your strengths as you sit up. Roll down with arms extended. Do five daily.

Crossed-Arm Roll-Downs
After you have done the Extended Arms Roll Downs and Basketball Sit-Ups for a time, you will be able to cross your arms over your chest for a Roll-Down. Then, as soon as you can, do a Crossed Arm Sit-Up. Do five daily.

Hands Behind the Head: Roll-Downs and Sit-Ups
Lastly, roll down with your hands clasped behind your head as in the test for Abdominals. Sit back up with arms crossed.

In no time, you will be able to sit up with hands behind your head, and you will have passed the first two parts of the test.

To improve back and hamstring flexibility and to prevent back pain, do the following exercise.

Flexiblity BounceFlexibility Bounce
Note: Don’t panic because the word “bounce’ is connected to an exercise. Ballistic stretch bouncing done properly is now considered superior to “static stretch” in which you hold the extreme of a stretch for a matter of a minute or more.

Stand with legs apart and absolutely straight. Get your head up and clasp your hands behind your back. Lean forward from the hips.

Bounce gently to rhythm: eight front, eight left, and eight right.

Next, drop your whole upper body — chest, arms, neck, and head — loosely down. Keep your upper body relaxed and bounce eight front, eight left, and eight right.

That makes a set. Do four sets.

Remember: stand with legs absolutely straight.

The only thing that really belongs to you is your body. And you only have one. Take care of it and it will serve you well. Take care of it so that others don’t have to. Take care of it so that you can do what YOU want to do. Take care of it and love, live, enjoy, and be happy.

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For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help. Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®

The photo of John F. Kennedy is from https://commons.wikimedia.org/