Friday, September 27, 2013

Article # 548. Healthy Facts about Whole-Wheat Flour vs. White Flour

There are lot many misconceptions running between people about the difference between White flour and Whole wheat flour. White flour is made from heavily refined and processed wheat grains, while whole-wheat flour is made from grains that have not undergone heavy processing. Whole-wheat and white flours differ in their nutritional value.

Fiber Content

One of the primary nutritional differences between whole-wheat and white flour is the food’s fiber content. Dietary fiber has a number of health benefits -- it prevents constipation, lowers blood cholesterol and might help you lose weight, according to Colorado State University. The refining process associated with making white flour separates the fiber-rich brain from the rest of the grain, so white flour typically contains less fiber than its whole-grain counterpart. For example, 1/2 cup of white flour contains 1.3 grams of fiber, while an equal serving of whole-wheat flour contains 6.4 grams. As a result, selecting foods that contain wheat flour helps you reach your dietary fiber intake goal -- 28 grams daily if you follow a 2,000-calorie diet, according to Colorado State University.

Effect on Blood Sugar

Any carbohydrate-containing food -- including those containing either whole-wheat or white flour -- has some effect on your blood sugar. After you eat a meal, your body breaks the carbohydrates from your food into glucose, a simple sugar. This glucose then enters your bloodstream, so it can circulate throughout your body and provide fuel to your cells. The glycemic index, or GI, of a food serves as a measure of how quickly this process occurs. High-GI foods lead to rapid blood sugar spikes and subsequent crashes that leave you hungry and irritable shortly after eating. Low-GI foods absorb more slowly to prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes, so you’re satisfied for longer after your meal. Bread made with 100 percent whole-wheat flour has a GI of 51, according to Harvard Medical School, while bread made with white wheat flour has a GI of 71. If you seek to regulate your blood sugar after a meal, choose foods made with whole-wheat flour.

Vitamin Content

Whole-wheat flour provides a nutritional advantage over some white flours due to its vitamin content. Whole-wheat flour contains several vitamins, including folate, riboflavin and vitamins B-1, B-3 and B-5. Some types of white flour contain lower levels of these vitamins, since the processing involved in making white flour destroys the grains’ vitamin content -- for example, 1/2 cup of whole-wheat flour contains 3 milligrams of niacin, while an equivalent portion of white flour contains only 0.8 milligrams. To combat this, some food manufacturers enrich their white flour with vitamins to replace the nutrients lost during processing. As a result, whole-grain flour often contains higher levels of vitamins than unenriched white flour but roughly compares to vitamin-enriched white flour. Check the nutrition label to determine if a bag of white flour has added vitamins, and compare different brands of flour to maximize your vitamin intake.

Eat More Whole-Wheat Flour

Making a few easy substitutions in your diet helps you reap the nutritional benefit of whole-wheat flour without sacrificing the foods you love. When you bake at home, try using a mix of whole-wheat and white flours for cookies, muffins and cakes, and opt for 100-percent whole-wheat flour to make homemade bread. At the grocery store, check your bread labels to select loaves made with 100 percent whole wheat -- this bread is made using whole-wheat flour, whereas those labeled simply "whole-wheat" might contain a mix of whole wheat and white flours. In the pasta isle, skip the white pasta and opt for noodles made from a mix of white and whole-wheat flour. Pasta made with 100-percent whole wheat feels gummy after cooking thanks to the pasta's fiber content, so choosing pasta made using some whole-wheat flour boosts the nutritional content of your meal without sacrificing texture.

Monday, September 23, 2013


I have been asked regularly, "What is the difference between whole wheat and whole grain?" Our answer is another question: "What is the difference between a carrot and a vegetable?"
We all know that all carrots are vegetables but not all vegetables are carrots. It's similar with whole wheat and whole grain: Whole wheat is one kind of whole grain, so all whole wheat is whole grain, but not all whole grain is whole wheat.
Whole grain means that all parts of the grain kernel — the bran, germ and endosperm — are used. Whole wheat has the bran and germ removed during the refining process and is left containing only the endosperm. Unfortunately, the majority of vitamins and fiber are contained in the wheat bran and wheat germ that is shed during the refining process.
Whole wheat flour goes through a refining process that removes some of the nutritional values. In fact, whole wheat flour has half of the nutrients stripped away during the refining process. Whole grain flour is not refined and therefor maintains its full nutritional value. Whole grain bread is a good source of B vitamins and fiber and is lower in fat than whole wheat bread.
Nutritional Differences and Appearance
Whole grain is lower in fat than whole wheat. Whole grain also contains all of the fiber, iron and B vitamins that nature intended because it does not go through a refining process. In fact, the refining process strips away half of the vitamins, calcium, iron and fiber from whole wheat products.
Whole grain and whole wheat look very similar. Most people cannot tell the difference between the two without tasting them. Whole grain has a richer taste than whole wheat does. Whole grain has a more dense texture than whole wheat does.
My Suggestions:-
Whole grain maintains all of the nutrients nature intended which makes it a more filling and satisfying choice than whole wheat. It is possible to feel full quicker while eating less when you choose whole grain over whole wheat. Also, whole grain is a better choice for diabetics because it cause less of a "sugar spike" than whole wheat does. Refined grains have been linked not only to weight gain but also and increased risk of insulin resistance. In fact, whole grains have been shown to lower your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes otherwise known as adult onset Diabetes.

The only way to know if you are getting whole grain or whole wheat is to read the label. Look for whole wheat flour as the first ingredient or a statement that it is made with 100% whole grain. Sometimes labels can be deceiving, so make sure that you read the label carefully.  The Whole Grain Council makes it even easier for you by putting their whole grain stamp on whole grain products. So read the labels and look for the whole grain stamp to pick the healthiest products.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Article # 546. Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds

Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds come from a plant that is similar to the marijuana plant, but has lower levels of psychoactive cannabinoid compounds. The seeds and seed oil are used in cooking and for food. Typically, the seed’s hard shell is removed before it is eaten. Seeds also are treated so they can’t be planted and grown. Hemp seeds can have health benefits, but you should consult your doctor before adding them to your regimen if you plan to use them to treat a specific condition.

Complete Protein

Hemp seeds are one of the only plant-based complete proteins. They contain all eight essential amino acids, those that your body cannot make and must be ingested. The protein provided by shelled hemp seeds is proportional to both egg whites and soy beans with higher levels of arginine and histidine. It is easily digested and in turn often used to treat malnourishment. The consumption of complete proteins is necessary for survival, while it is also effective in curbing hunger and building and maintaining muscle mass.

Essential Fatty Acids

Fat is an essential part of a healthy diet and shelled hemp seeds are a great source of polyunsaturated fat as well as essential fatty acids. There are two fatty acids that your body cannot produce on its own yet are essential to human life. They are Omega 3, or alpha linoleic acid, and Omega 6, or linoleic acid. The composition and balance of fatty acids in hemp seeds have a positive effect on the inflammatory processes and cell membrane activities in the body that are the infrastructure of many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and various cancers.

Vitamin E Effects

Hemp seeds are a source of vitamin E, which can help to boost immune function and alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, according to the University of Michigan. Vitamin E also has a role in red blood cell formation in your body, and helps your body utilize vitamin K, which helps your blood stick together, or 
coagulate, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Soluble and Insoluble Fiber

Hemp seeds are comprised of 27 percent carbohydrates, almost all of which is in the form of soluble and insoluble fiber. The fibers are found in a 4-to-1 ratio, insoluble to soluble, in shelled hemp seeds. Soluble fiber is responsible for slowing glucose absorption, slowing gastric emptying and increasing the excretion of bile acid, which lowers levels of LDL cholesterol in the body. Insoluble fiber is responsible for moving matter through your digestive system and keeping your bowel movements regular. As a part of a daily diet, it is also associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Other Benefits

Hemp seeds can help you if you are constipated because they act as a bulk-forming laxative, according to the University of Michigan. Bulk-forming laxatives can improve the frequency and consistency of stools, according to M. Borgia, lead author for a study published in the Journal of International Medical Research. Hemp seeds also traditionally are used to treat atherosclerosis, exzema and attention deficient-hyperactive disorder, according to the University of Michigan. However, scientific evidence to back these uses lags, the school advises.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Article # 545. Health Benefits of Blue Green Algae

“Blue-green algae” describes a large and diverse group of simple, plant-like organisms found in salt water and some large fresh water lakes.

Blue-green algae are used as a source of dietary protein, B-vitamins, and iron. They are also used for weight loss, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), hayfever, diabetes, stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and other women’s health issues.
Some people use blue-green algae for treating precancerous growths inside the mouth, boosting the immune system, improving memory, increasing energy and metabolism, lowering cholesterol, preventing heart disease, healing wounds, and improving digestion and bowel health.

Blue-green algae are commonly found in tropical or subtropical waters that have a high-salt content, but some types grow in large fresh water lakes. The natural color of these algae can give bodies of water a dark-green appearance. The altitude, temperature, and sun exposure where the blue-green algae are grown dramatically influence the types and mix of blue-green algae in the water.

Some blue-green algae products are grown under controlled conditions. Others are grown in a natural setting, where they are more likely to be contaminated by bacteria, liver poisons (microcystins) produced by certain bacteria, and heavy metals. Choose only products that have been tested and found free of these contaminants.

You may have been told that blue-green algae are an excellent source of protein. But, in reality, blue-green algae is no better than meat or milk as a protein source and costs about 30 times as much per gram.
How does it work?
Blue-green algae have a high protein, iron, and other mineral content which is absorbed when taken orally. Blue-green algae are being researched for their potential effects on the immune system, swelling (inflammation), and viral infections.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Article # 544. Health Benefits of CHIA SEEDS

Chia seeds are native to South America and have been a staple in Mayan and Aztec diets for centuries. Today, they draw the interest of many people for their health benefits and uses in cooking. It turns out the South American staple is a rich source of nutrients and antioxidants.
Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals, aging and cancer. The high antioxidant profile also helps them have a long shelf life. They last almost two years without refrigeration.

Blood Sugar Regulation

Chia seeds can play an important role in regulating insulin levels. They can reduce insulin resistance and decrease abnormally high levels of insulin in the blood.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Chia seeds are rich in polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds' lipid profile is composed of 60 percent omega-3s, making them one of the richest plant-based sources of these fatty acids -- specifically, of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. The omega-3s in chia seeds can help reduce inflammation, enhance cognitive performance and reduce high cholesterol.

Cardiovascular Benefits

Chia alleviates a multitude of factors that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention considers risk factors for heart disease. High cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes have been linked to cardiovascular issues. Chia's omega-3s, especially the alpha-linolenic acid, reduces plaque buildup associated with heart problems.


Along with essential fatty acids, chia contains minerals and vitamins that protect cells. There is as much calcium in 3 oz. of chia as there is in 2 cups of milk. Iron in 4 cups of spinach equals the same as 3 oz. of chia.

Can Be Digested Whole
Unlike flaxseeds, which are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and minerals, chia seeds do not need to be ground in order to obtain their nutrient or egg- replacement benefits.

Sleep Aid

Chia seed contains tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes sound sleep. The healing effects originate from serotonin, a neurotransmitter needed for tryptophan formation.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Article # 543. Health benefits of “BUCK WHEAT”

Although buckwheat groats are often used for hot cereal or ground into flour, they are not a cereal grain or type of wheat. Instead, buckwheat groats are the fruit seed of the buckwheat plant. Because of this, buckwheat is an excellent alternative to wheat for those with celiac disease or wheat allergies. You can use cooked buckwheat groats as a hot cereal or as an alternative to rice or barley.

Diets that contain buckwheat have been linked to lowered risk of developing high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The Yi people of China consume a diet high in buckwheat (100 grams per day, about 3.5 ounces). When researchers tested blood lipids of 805 Yi Chinese, they found that buckwheat intake was associated with lower total serum cholesterol, lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL, the form linked to cardiovascular disease), and a high ratio of HDL (health-promoting cholesterol) to total cholesterol.

Buckwheat's beneficial effects are due in part to its rich supply of flavonoids, particularly rutin. Flavonoids are phytonutrients that protect against disease by extending the action of vitamin C and acting as antioxidants.
The nutrients in buckwheat may contribute to blood sugar control. In a test that compared the effect on blood sugar of whole buckwheat groats to bread made from refined wheat flour, buckwheat groats significantly lowered blood glucose and insulin responses. Whole buckwheats also scored highest on their ability to satisfy hunger.

Calories and Protein

One cup of cooked buckwheat groats contains 155 calories. Like most hot cereals, the majority of the calories in buckwheat groats come from carbohydrates. However, buckwheat groats do contain a small amount of protein. One cup contains 5.7 g, which supplies more than 10 percent of the daily value for adults. Protein assists with the growth of your muscles. The amino acids in protein also help you make neurotransmitters, which are necessary for proper brain function.


One cup of buckwheat groats contains 34 g of carbohydrates, most of which are the complex carbohydrates starch and fiber. One cup contains 4.5 g of fiber, which supplies 16 percent of the daily value for women and 13 percent for men. Buckwheat groats contain insoluble fiber, which can help to move food through your intestine. This can help to keep your bowel movements consistent. Fiber may also support the health of your intestines and promote weight loss. Fiber can make you feel full longer than foods high in simple sugars.


Buckwheat groats are high in numerous minerals, including magnesium and manganese. One cup supplies more than 20 percent of the daily value of magnesium. Magnesium is needed for the proper functioning of all your organs, including your heart. It also helps to keep other nutrients, such as calcium, at proper levels in your body. One cup of buckwheat groats also supplies more than 25 percent of the daily value of manganese, which helps to regulate blood sugar. In addition, one cup of buckwheat groats provides 17 percent of phosphorus, 9 percent of zinc, 27 percent of copper and 16 percent of iron for men. Women need more iron than men, so one cup of buckwheat supplies only 7 percent of their daily need.

B Vitamins

Buckwheat groats are higher in some B vitamins than other hot cereals, such as oatmeal. For instance, one cup of cooked buckwheat groats provides 10 percent of niacin and B-6, while oatmeal supplies less than 4 percent of both of these vitamins. Niacin helps you make hormones, such as cortisol and testosterone. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, it can also improve your circulation and help lower your cholesterol. Vitamin B-6 boosts your immune system by supporting the organs that make white blood cells.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Article # 542. Health Benefits of Cinnamon

Cinnamon is best known as a spice, sprinkled on toast and lattes. But extracts from the bark of the cinnamon tree have also been used traditionally as medicine throughout the world.
1. Numerous studies show that cinnamon regulates blood sugar, making it a great choice for diabetics and hypoglycemics alike.  That’s also great news for anyone who wants stable energy levels and moods.
2. It reduces LDL cholesterol levels.  LDL is also known as the harmful cholesterol.  Reducing it may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
3. It has natural anti-infectious compounds.  In studies, cinnamon has been effective against ulcer-causing H. pylori bacteria and other pathogens.
4. It reduces pain linked to arthritis.  Cinnamon has been shown in studies at the Department of Internal Medicine, Kangnam Korean Hospital, to reduce cytokines linked to arthritic pain.
5. Research at the University of Texas, published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, shows that cinnamon may reduce the proliferation of cancer cells, holding promise for cancer prevention and sufferers of the disease.
6. It is a natural food preservative.
7. It contains fiber, calcium, iron, and manganese—albeit small amounts to the typical dose of ground cinnamon.
8.  It’s been proven effective for menstrual pain and 9. infertility.  Cinnamon contains a natural chemical called cinnamaldehyde, which studies show increases the hormone progesterone and decreases testosterone production in women, helping to balance hormones.
9. Cinnamon holds promise for various neurodegenerative diseases, including: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, brain tumor, and meningitis, according to research at the Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas.  Their research shows that cinnamon reduces chronic inflammation linked with these neurological disorders.
10.  Not a health benefit, but a great reason to love cinnamon, it’s versatile.  It works with sweet and savory dishes alike.  Consider that many curries and savory Moroccan dishes include cinnamon.  It’s not just for apples anymore.
How much cinnamon should you take?
Because cinnamon is an unproven treatment, there is no established dose. Some recommend 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (2-4 grams) of powder a day. Some studies have used between 1 gram and 6 grams of cinnamon. Very high doses may be toxic.

What are the risks of taking cinnamon?
·        Side effects. Cinnamon usually causes no side effects. Heavy use of cinnamon may irritate the mouth and lips, causing sores. In some people, it can cause an allergic reaction. Applied to the skin, it might cause redness and irritation.
      Risks. Very high quantities of cassia cinnamon may be toxic, particularly in people with liver problems. Because cinnamon may lower blood sugar, people with diabetes may need to adjust their treatment if they use cinnamon supplements. People who have cancer that’s affected by hormone levels, like breast cancer, should not take cinnamon. An ingredient in some cinnamon products, coumarin, may cause liver problems. 

      Given the lack of evidence about its safety, cinnamon -- as a treatment -- is not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

      Interactions. If you take any medicines regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using cinnamon supplements. They could interact with antibiotics, diabetes drugs, blood thinners, heart medicines, and others.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Article # 541. How to Gain Weight

1.      Determine how much more you need to eat to gain a pound or a kilo.  
v  To gain a pound, you'll need an excess of 3500 calories above your resting metabolic rate (RMR) — that is, you
v  Calculate your RMR. Your resting metabolic rate is the amount of calories per day that your body requires to maintain your existing weight. Here's how to figure it out
v  Convert your weight from pounds to kilograms. Divide your weight in pounds by 2.2. The result is your weight in kilograms.
v  Convert your height from inches to centimeters. Multiply your height in inches by 2.54. The result is your height in centimeters.
v  Plug your information into the formula. The basic formula is RMR = 10 * weight(kg) + 6.25 * height(cm) - 5 * age(y) + x. For men, x = 5; for women, x = -161.
v  Understand that the formula calculates how many calories you would burn if you spent the entire day resting. You probably burn a few hundred more than your RMR during the course of a normal day — this is just a rough estimate to get your weight-gain diet started.
2.      Account for your activity level.
Since you (hopefully) do not sit still in bed all day, you must account for the calories you burn through activity. Once you have your BMR, use the Harris Benedict Formula below to determine your total daily calorie needs depending on your activity level. To determine your total daily calorie needs, multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor:
v  If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : BMR x 1.2
v  If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : BMR x 1.375
v  If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : BMR x 1.55
v  If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : BMR x 1.725
v  If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports and physical job or 2x training) : BMR x 1.9
v  For example, a 19-year-old woman who is 5’5” and 130 pounds would plug her information into the calculator and find out that her BMR is 1366.8 calories. Then, since she is moderately active, exercising 3-5 days per week, she would multiply 1366.8 by 1.55, to equal 2118.5 calories. That is the number of calories that her boded to add to your diet. Now that you have an idea of how many calories your body burns in a day, you can calculate how many more you need to gain weight.
v  Aim for one or two pounds per week. More than that could lead to a cycle of crash dieting, in which you gain and lose weight quickly.
v  At first, try adding 500 calories a day to your diet. For instance, if you need 2300 calories a day to maintain your current weight, strive to consume 2800 calories daily. This should be an extra 3500 calories over the course of a week, which will lead to one pound of weight gained.
3.      Eat three meals per day, as well as two snacks. Eating on a regular schedule can help you make sure you're getting enough calories every day. Aim to have generously-portioned breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as two snacks in between.
4.      Focus on hefty foods. You don't have to exclusively eat high-fat foods to gain weight. Actually, you'll gain weight more steadily and safely if you adjust your diet slightly to include denser foods and extra condiments. Consider these options:
v  Drinks — Try protein shakes, juices or whole milk. Avoid diet sodas.
v  Breads — Hearty and dense breads, such as whole wheat, oat bran, pumpernickel and rye, are more nutritious than white bread. Cut thick slices and spread generously with peanut butter, jam, honey, hummus, or cream cheese.
v  Vegetables — Look for starchy vegetables (potatoes, peas, corns, carrots, winter squash, beets). Avoid vegetables that are mostly water (broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, green beans, cucumbers).
v  Fruit — Choose dense fruit (bananas, pears, apples, pineapple, dried fruit) over watery fruit (oranges, peaches, plums, berries, watermelon).
v  Soups — Go for hearty cream soups instead of broth-based soups. If you have trouble with edema or high blood pressure, you may want to avoid store-bought soups that are high in sodium.
v  Added oils — When you're cooking, add a generous amount of oil to your food. The healthiest oils are unrefined (extra virgin) oils such as olive, coconut, canola, palm, and (of course) butter. Less healthy but still acceptable sources of oil are those high in omega-6 fatty acids (pro-inflammatory) such as safflower, sunflower, and peanut oils. Unhealthy oils that contain trans fats include shortening and soybean oil (aka vegetable oil).
v  Spreads — Spreading delicious calorie-rich toppings on toast, crackers, pitas, and any other carbohydrate source is an excellent way to increase caloric intake. Some good high-calorie spreads are guacamole, olive oil, cream cheese, hummus, butter, nut butters, sour cream, cheese slices, and mayonnaise. For even more calories, mix these with shredded meats like chicken or fish.
v  Supplements — Some nutritional supplements are designed specifically for weight gain. Investigate brands and products that are suggested for people suffering from illnesses that lead to weight loss, such as Crohn's disease or hyperthyroidism.
5.      Avoid trans fats. Trans fats can increase belly fat, as well as inducing unhealthy insulin levels[3]. Steer clear of margarine, shortening, packaged snack foods, and processed meats.
6.      Eat more protein. A lack of protein in your diet can lead to the loss of lean body mass, even if you're consuming excess calories[4]. Here are some foods to consider [5]:
v  Boiled soybeans
v  Soy or whey protein powder
v  Peanuts or peanut butter
v  Steak or hamburger
v  Chicken
v  Tuna

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Article # 540. 22 Foods that give you clearer prettier SKIN

-       Vitamin A - liver, pumpkins, apricots, spinach & sweet potatoes
-       Vitamin C – strawberries, peppers, pineapples, oranges, and mangos
-       Vitamin B - lean poultry, peas, beans and green leafy vegetables
-       Zinc - Nuts, seeds, carrots & Quinoa
-       Omega 3 fatty acids - Fish (like salmon, tuna and sardines), flax seed and walnuts
-       Water

Friday, September 6, 2013

Article # 539. Flexibility Activities

Flexibility -- along with aerobic exercise, strength-training and endurance -- is one important component of a well-rounded workout regimen. Maintaining and improving your flexibility can help prevent joint pain and stiffness, reduce your risk for lower back pain and prevent injuries. Whether you're a new exerciser or a regular at the gym, adding flexibility exercises to your workout routine can be a smart idea.
Just moving every day can help you maintain some flexibility, but true flexibility activities take your joints through their complete range of motion, stretching them in all directions. If you regularly stretch before and after a workout, you're already doing flexibility exercises, even if you don't realize it. Flexibility exercises are low intensity, so if your movements hurt, stop. Pain is a clear sign you're pushing your joints farther than you should.
For best results, aim to incorporate flexibility activities into your workout at least two to three times a week. Just as important as how often you add flexibility training to your workout is how long you hold stretches while you're doing them. Aim to hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds, increasing the duration as you build your flexibility.Types of Exercises
Flexibility exercises come in two different types: exercises you do standing or sitting up, often called standing stretches, and stretches that you must lie on the ground to perform correctly. Standing exercises include hamstring stretches, which stretch the muscles in the back of your thigh, and triceps stretches, which stretch the muscles in the back of your arm. Floor exercises include quadriceps stretches, which stretch the muscles in the front of your thighs, and shoulder rotations, which stretch your shoulder muscles. If you're new to stretching exercises, learning how to do them properly is important. Make an appointment with a physical trainer to learn proper form, or sign up for a class such as yoga or Pilates that emphasizes stretching.
As long as you listen to your body and stop if you feel pain, stretching is safe for most people. But if you have had a knee or hip replacement or if you have a condition such as arthritis that affects your joints, it's important to talk to your health care provider about the safest way to improve your flexibility. While you're stretching, resist the urge to bounce -- it can tear your muscles. Instead, hold your stretch steady. Warm up with a few minutes of walking in place before you start flexibility exercises, and don't forget to breathe normally during your stretch.