Back in the 1960s, the dance craze of the The Twist was all the rage. As teenagers, we were all slim and agile and it was easy to master The Twist. But all those twisting dance sessions could well have been good for our health too.
A decade earlier and it was all about the hoola hoop when people of all ages took up another exercise for twisting the tummy.
But how important is it to keep on twisting that tummy for a healthier life?
We share some of the benefits of twisting...
- Twisting exercises are an effective workout for your stomach for increasing muscle mass and movement abilities. If you regularly incorporate twisting exercises into your workout routine, you should see improved muscle tone and increased range of motion. You will also find that you can twist further, a result of increased strength, and an important aspect of training to rotational athletes such as golfers and baseball players.
A twist board is a round platform on which you stand and perform exercises while twisting from side to side, working the core muscles involved in maintaining balance. Start a twist board workout slowly, and build up workout intensity as you grow accustomed to the equipment. Twist board exercises have several benefits, but you should also be aware of the potential for injury. For exercises on the twist board, stand on the board, and balance. Hold your arms out to your side if you need to in order to maintain balance. Twist your torso 45 degrees to the left, and hold for 10 seconds. Return facing forward. Repeat the movement to the right. As twisting too far places tension on the lower back and could result in injury, exercise caution especially if you've had back problems in the past. Don't twist too far, and do the same number of repetitions on each side.
Yoga twists are very popular, offering both physical and emotional benefits. Use yoga twists to stretch out the spine and hips, stimulate digestion and calm your mind. Twisting is one of the major directions in which the spine moves. But like any activity, if you don't train it, you lose flexibility in that movement. A lack of flexibility in the twist means that when you suddenly twist without thinking, your back may react with a spasm, pulled muscle or an even more severe injury. Twisting in yoga practice keeps your back supple so you can regularly twist in daily life.
- Another benefit of yoga twists is organ manipulation. Twists help to move the internal organs around in your midsection which may increase the motility in the large and small intestine and the stomach, helping to move contents more swiftly and thus alleviating gas and constipation. Twists can also ease the cramps and stomach discomfort that can come with digestive problems and menstruation, helping to soothe muscle contractions in the tummy.
Here are two twisting exercises to try
A couple of examples of twisting exercises are a Russian twist and a cable twist.
- To do a Russian twist, sit on the ground with your knees bent 90 degrees and your feet flat. Lean back slightly, and twist with an 8-lb. medicine ball in your hands to both sides, 12 on each side.
- To do a cable twist, set a cable pulley at waist height. Hold the handle in both hands and rotate the cable 180 degrees around, maintaining straight arms throughout the entire motion. Rotate back and forth slowly 12 times on each side.
Of course, you can always put on some 1960s twist music and re-invent this dance craze, doing your own form of twisting exercise. The worldwide dance craze enjoyed immense popularity while drawing controversy from critics who felt it was too provocative - hard to imagine nearly sixty years later!