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Yoga and Running: Opposites Attract

Yoga is great for stretching and toning your muscles, and increasing flexibility, but as far as a great cardio workout for your heart, it doesn't quite cut it.

That's why running is the perfect complement to yoga. It's practically the opposite of yoga on the exercise scale. Nothing gets the blood flowing and your heart pumping like a good run. On an average mile run, your foot will hit the ground 1,000 times. The force of impact can be 3 to 4 times your weight, so it's no wonder that many runners complain of lower back and knee pain, tight hips and hamstrings, and sore feet.

Running works your lower body brilliantly, but it leaves your upper body in the dust. This imbalance is what can cause so many problems for runners, so that's where yoga comes in. Yoga works your upper body (another reason I love vinyasas) and stretches out tight muscles. It also increases flexibility, which can prevent injury, so you'll be able to run for many years to come. Running and yoga can work as a team to keep your muscles strong and supple, and your bones in alignment.

Although both can be quite meditative and relaxing, neither one is a substitute for the other. Whether you focus more on running or yoga, try to strike a balance since the two compliment each other so well.

Fit's Tips: If you are a die-hard runner, try to remember to make time for stretching before or after your runs. You might even want to throw a weekly yoga class into your routine. On the other hand, if you are more into gentle exercise like yoga and stretching, you've got to remember to work your heart too. Add 20 minutes of heart pumping exercise (it doesn't have to be running), 2-3 times a week. Incorporating cardio and yoga will make your body and mind stronger and more balanced.

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