08 Nov Stretch Your Way to Good Health
Living an active lifestyle is crucial to building good health and longevity. Along with physical activity comes its partner, stretching. While busy schedules can sometimes lead us to skip this important step, it’s essential to carve out a few extra minutes each day to make sure that we are giving our bodies what they need.
Stretching is usually done before or after exercising, however it can be done any time of day. Upon waking, while resting, and even before bed. Taking a few minutes to stretch while at work is also beneficial. How can something that seems so simple help our bodies so much? Well, stretching on a regular basis can decrease our risk of injury, improve overall physical performance, enable our muscles to work optimally, improve flexibility and increase the range of mobility of our joints. Stretching also helps increase blood flow to our muscles.
A recent study among college students showed that those who stretched before being asked to do simple stability exercises were able to stay upright while the students who didn’t were unable to retain their balance. Researchers think that regular stretching can benefit fine muscle control which is something we tend to start losing as we age.
Before starting to stretch, it’s important to take into account what your body is used to and what feels ok. Some people are naturally more flexible than others. Age, weight, and physical activity levels will also indicate how much stretching and the types of stretching your body is ready to do. Some simple tips for proper stretching include focusing on your major muscle groups. You will want to stretch both sides, aiming for symmetry more than full flexibility. Those muscle groups include the lower back, hips, thighs, calves, shoulders and neck. You will want to stretch as smoothly as possible. Ease into your stretches without straining yourself. Try to hold the stretch for as long as feels comfortable. Aiming for 15 to 30 seconds is optimal. This time will increase the more you practice.
Taking a few minutes to stretch our bodies each day as a part of an active lifestyle benefits our bodies in multiple ways. Start off slowly and make it a habit that will aid in your mobility and overall health for years to come.