During the summer holidays we have the chance to enjoy the freedom of a well-earned break, getting away from our regular routines, including attending dance classes. Surprisingly, our bodies benefit from having a rest; giving our nervous system an opportunity to digest recently learned moves, and our muscles a chance to relax.
However, if your body is used to regular exercise and you stop suddenly; it can cause problems. Exercise is known to help regulate your blood sugar levels; therefore you may feel hungrier. It also helps to relieve stress, and release tight muscles and joint stiffness. All this whilst assisting in maintaining a healthy body weight.
Here are my "Top Tips" to help you "Stay in Shape over Summer"...
Walk to the park
The easiest way to stay active over summer is through brisk walking. It's a great way to increase your stamina and you can do it anywhere. If you're on holiday you can walk to the beach, up a mountain, or whilst sightseeing; giving you lots of distractions when you're starting to feel tired. If you stay at home this summer, why not take a brisk walk to the park. You can even work your core muscles with a ride on a swing!
Swimming is a brilliant way to workout your whole body. Not only is it good for increasing aerobic capacity; it also provides an anabolic workout, toning muscles due to the water resistance, without putting any stress on your joints. Dancers will see benefits in endurance, power and flexibility. Try to swim for 20 minutes, then get the inflatables out and have some fun!
Try some Stretching
Holding a stretch position for more than 30 seconds is a good way to increase flexibility - but it only works if you're warm! Before doing any stretching you should do a warm-up to get your blood pumping around your body, which will loosen your muscles and joints. Stretching cold muscles can lead to over-stretched ligaments and tendons; increasing instability and risk of injury. If you're not naturally flexible, try using a foam roller between your warm-up and stretches. Like the warm-up this will improve blood flow in specific areas and signals the nervous system to help muscles relax.
If you're not a fan of working out at home, why not try a Pilates or Yoga class instead?
Have a go at our "5 Stretches for Summer"…
1. Working on: Hip flexibility with body alignment
Lie on your side, knees bent and stacked one on top of the other, and align your head, tailbone and feet against a wall.
Open your top knee to the ceiling, keeping the feet connected.
Close it with control.
Repeat slowly 10 times.
Repeat on the other side.
2. Working on: Glutes, lower leg and ankle muscles
Stand in parallel, feet hip-distance apart.
Lift one knee up to 90 degrees, and raise your arms straight above your head.
Hold for one minute.
Repeat on the other leg.
Repeat 10 times.
Note: to make this harder try adding some constant arm movements, or try these on a wobble board.
3. Working on: Hamstrings
Sit on the floor with once leg stretched out straight and the other leg bent comfortably out of the way.
Reach up and lean forward at the hips to feel a stretch under the thigh.
Hold for at least 30 seconds, before relaxing.
Repeat 5 times.
Repeat on with other leg.
4. Working on: Intrinsic foot muscles
Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor in parallel.
Dome your arch up, pulling your heels forward towards your toes, in a very small controlled motion.
Repeat 10 times.
Then, instead of pulling your heels forward, try pulling your toes back in a small controlled motion.
Repeat 10 times.
Note: this can also be done standing instead of sitting, but requires more strength.
5. Working on: Hip strength
Stand in parallel at a barre (you can use the back of a chair or the kitchen worktop).
Raise one leg directly behind you, in a very low parallel arabesque (keeping your leg stretched).
Repeat for 10 small lifts.
Repeat using the other leg.
Note: to make this harder, try it without your barre.
Maintaining some simple exercise like those mentioned above will help keep you fit and energised throughout the summer holiday.
Hope you all have a lovely break and look forward to our return in September with renewed enthusiasm!