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Flexibility and golf fitness can keep your golf game hot during the cold months

Katherine RobertsBy Katherine Roberts,

Every winter, golfers who live in cold climates face the challenge of staying physically and mentally fit. As the frigid temperatures set in, it's very easy to start thinking more about long cold days than long straight drives. How do you maintain your golf game during the off-season?

If we don't take the time to take care of ourselves physically and mentally, our bodies won't be prepared when the golf season swings into full gear. Even if you live in a warm climate year-round, you still need to work on a fitness program to keep yourself in optimum condition.

To help you get prepared -- or to improve your fitness -- here are six simple tips to use during the off-season -- or for anytime you want to increase your fitness level.

Remember, it's important to keep your goals within reach and to commit yourself to this Yoga for Golfers program for 20 to 30 minutes a day, three days a week. The body will respond to your yoga practice if you make the effort. [NOTE: As always, before you begin any exercise program, consult your doctor.]

Here are the tips:

Maintain or work toward increased flexibility, especially with muscles you use in your golf swing. On GolfInstruction.com we will provide ongoing Yoga for Golfers tips so you can build an effective program right in your home.

· Begin a program of cardiovascular fitness for endurance. Brisk walking, riding a stationary bike or swimming in an indoor pool are good forms of training. Try to sustain a slightly elevated heart rate for at least 20 minutes, three times a week.

· Increase abdominal strength to support a straight spine at address. Simple abdominal crunches are great for building your core body strength.

· Keep the weight off. Make this a "waistline-friendly" winter.

· Catch up on reading about the mental golf game. We often become too focused on the physical aspect of the game and ignore the mental side.

· Use the off-season to refine, focus and develop visualization and practice techniques. In addition, you can still practice your swing fundamentals and even do some chipping and putting inside the comfort of your home. If you have an indoor golf facility nearby, continue working on your game there.

Yoga for Golfers tips:

Hold each yoga pose while taking five to 10 slow, deep breaths. This will support more rhythm and tempo in your swing. Breathing relieves tension, which is a top cause of swing flaws. Pay attention to the rise and fall of the rib cage and belly. Do not strain; simply breathe deeply. Inhale and exhale through the nose, calming the nervous system and increasing blood flow to the muscles. Remember to stretch gently and never bounce.

Sitting rotation:

Golf benefit: Increases the range of motion to increase your distance.

Sit on the floor with your legs extended. Cross your left leg over your right and place your foot beside your knee. Then place your right hand behind your back and sit as erect as possible. Place your right elbow on your left knee and rotate to the left as you also turn your head to the left. Repeat on the other side.

Hamstring stretch

Golf benefit: Supports lower back health and proper knee flexion in your stance or in a challenging lye. With your legs extended, flex your feet and contract your quadriceps. Fold your body forward over your legs as much as possible but not to the point of experiencing pain. Hold this pose for 10 breaths.

Hip flexor

Golf benefit: Develops power and the ability to finish fully extended toward the target.

Begin on your knees and bring your left foot forward. Keep your left knee at a 90-degree angle, and then slide your right leg back until you feel a stretch in your right thigh and hip. Engage the muscles of your right leg and buttocks. Repeat on the other side.

Make a commitment to maintain or even elevate your level of physical and mental golf fitness this winter. Some off-season preparation will go a long way when you hit the links.

Katherine Roberts is a nationally recognized writer and presenter on golf fitness and the founder of Yoga for Golfers.Because Your Body Doesn't Get A Mulligan! She is a contributor to The Golf Channel. Katherine's unique mind-body approach to golf fitness is available through her DVDs, workshops, retreats or videos online at yogaforgolfers.com. E-mail Katherine with questions or comments at katherine@yogaforgolfers.com or call (888) 313-YOGA.

GolfInstruction.com readers are invited to receive a 25% introductory discount on all Yoga Fitness products. Visit www.yogaforgolfers.com and enter the code PR25 in the mailer code to receive your automatic discount.

Katherine Roberts and her highly successful Yoga for Golfers program, five instructional videos/DVD and, book have been featured in USA Today, Sports Illustrated, Golf Magazine, Self Magazine, Golf for Women, Athlon Golf, Affluent Golfer Magazine and numerous other media. She is a member of Golf Magazine's fitness panel. Katherine can often be seen on The Golf Channel.

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