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Healthy Aging Tips from Sit and Be Fit's Mary Ann Wilson RN

By Mary Ann Wilson, RN

Keeping your spine flexible and mobile is not only good for your body but it’s actually improving your cognitive functioning. Dr. Roger Sperry, Nobel Prize Recipient for Brain Research, tells us that “90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine.” If you find yourself sitting for long periods of time remember to take your spine through a gentle range of motion throughout the day. This can be done very easily in a chair by gently rounding the back (imagine you are hugging a tree) and slightly arching the back, gently rotating in both directions and laterally flexing the spine as demonstrated in the exercise below.

Gravity works against us oftentimes and we give into a compressed posture. To counteract this tendency, as many times as you can remember throughout the day, lengthen your spine by imagining a string pulling upward from the base of the spine, through the neck, and lifting through the crown of the head.

Another important tip that will help keep your spine mobile is to practice proper breathing techniques. Shallow breathing robs the spine of the massage-like stimulation that helps keep it healthy. So, when you’re watching television or sitting at the computer, activate your spine and stimulate your mind through subtle movements and deep breathing. Be creative and most importantly be consistent! Here is one great exercise for your spine that can be incorporated into any lifestyle.

Lateral Flexion Exercise for the Spine

Begin by sitting up tall and reaching one arm overhead. With the other hand gently and slowly pull the arm until you feel a comfortable stretch. Continue lengthening through the spine as you practice this exercise. Repeat on the other side.

Sit and Be Fit host, Mary Ann Wilson RN, demonstrates a lateral flexion exercise for the spine.
Sit and Be Fit host, Mary Ann Wilson RN, demonstrates a lateral flexion exercise for the spine.

Related Blogs:

Neutral Spine Alignment

Strengthen Abdominal Muscles Without Crunching

Good Posture is a Habit

Move To Improve Your Brain


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  1. Think i may have a disorder called cervical distonia for the past 5 years . I needto know what type of exercises can i do to manage my every day living.

    1. Hi Jasmine,
      It would be best to talk with your doctor to see what your exercise restrictions are. Sit and Be Fit is a gentle exercise program and would be valuable as long as you modify according to your doctor’s recommendations and stay within your comfort range. You may want to check to see if your insurance would cover one or more sessions with a physical therapist. They could help you design a program that would work best for you. Hope this helps!

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