This Weekend Challenge is a bit different from previous ones. It’s called Progressive Relaxation, and it reduces levels of the bone-damaging stress hormone cortisol in your body. Isn’t it great (and bone-healthy!) to start your weekend off all relaxed and in a good mood?
Today I’m thrilled to share with you these easy-to-do relaxation exercises. And to make it even more enjoyable, I’ve included an amazing music video from one of my favorite musicians, so you can play it as you practice this Weekend Challenge.
Let’s get started!
Why: When you are in a relaxed state, it helps your bones on several levels.
First, relaxed muscles put the pressure on your skeleton to build bone in the proper areas. Supple, strong muscles keep your bones aligned and strong.
Second, relaxation is crucial for reducing stress. As Savers already know, stress harms your bones because it leads to high levels of the primary stress hormone cortisol. For your bones to flourish, cortisol levels need to be reduced.
Third, your body actually responds to relaxation and exercise by producing “feel good” hormones like endorphins, the biological opposite of cortisol. Because you receive this “feel good feedback” from your body, you’re motivated to do more relaxation exercises. It’s a very positive cycle!
How: The first step is to get comfortable. Lie on your back somewhere that you can relax without discomfort, such as your bed, a couch, or a comfortable mat. Next…
- Press your toes (not your whole foot) downward. Hold this tension for 5 seconds, and then release.
- Reverse the direction and try to pull your toes up and back. Hold for 5 seconds, and then release.
- Flex your ankles to push your feet downward. Hold for 5 seconds, and then release.
(The same pattern of holding for 5 seconds and then releasing applies to the rest of the steps.)
- Flex your ankles the other way and pull your feet up and toward you.
- Tighten the muscles in your calves next.
- Tense up your thigh muscles.
- Now flex and release your buttocks.
- Tighten the muscles in your abdomen and pull it inward.
- Now use your abdominal muscles to gently push your abdomen outward.
- Pull your shoulders up toward your ears and tighten the muscles.
- Reach your arms out in front of you, stretching your fingertips toward the ceiling.
- Tighten your facial muscles in a “scrunched up face” (remember to apply a little facial moisturizer!) before releasing.
- Raise your eyebrows; hold and release.
Now lie still for a little while and let the sense of relaxation come over you like warm water or summer sunlight. Listen to your body – does an area still feel tense? Tighten the muscles in that area and hold again for 5 seconds before releasing. Feel free to continue working out the “kinks” until you feel fully relaxed.
Then lie still and continue listening to this beautiful and relaxing music: