Many of us view stretching as something to do before a workout – and rightly so. Doing any workout, but especially an intense, cardiovascular workout, without properly stretching first increases your risk of injury. However, priming yourself for a workout is not the only reason to stretch.
The following are five reasons why it’s wonderfully healthy to stretch every day – even on days that you may not be exercising.
Prevent muscle pain and joint stiffness
We stretch before we work out in order to prevent injuries such as strains, knots, pulls and general pain, however, we can sustain these types of injuries during day-to-day activities, too. Think about it: you use a lot of muscles when dusting high shelves, taking out the garbage, or shoveling your driveway.
In order to prevent the muscle pain and joint stiffness that can result from doing these types of chores with cold, rigid muscles, it is important to warm up and stretch first. Starting your day with some stretches is a great idea, because you never know what activities the day will bring.
Preserve your body’s range of motion
As we age, our joints naturally begin to lose their range of motion, and muscles experience increased rigidity. To help counteract this, it is important not only to get regular exercise, but also to stretch regularly.
Stretching helps to keep joints more mobile, and muscles more relaxed, so that you are able to do all the activities you wish as you age without suffering from diminishing mobility.
Improve your circulation
Stretching is known to help improve circulation, and gently stretching as many of your muscles as you can each day will allow the blood to flow more freely and easily to all parts of your body. It is likely because of the effect that stretching has on circulation that this practice has been linked to the prevention of conditions such as arthritis and kidney disease.
Break up some of that sitting!
Sitting around for long periods of time is one of the most damaging things that we modern Americans do to ourselves. Even though it may not seem like a big deal, prolonged sitting has been linked to both obesity and heart disease. Luckily, the solution is simple: moving and stretching.
Even if you work a desk job that requires a lot of sitting, as often as you can, get up, take a little walk, and do a few stretches. You’ll feel better as your posture will improve, and you’ll get the benefit of breaking up that sedentary time.
Have a moment of zen
Stretching is incredibly relaxing, and if done mindfully, can even be a meditative experience. Just make sure to breathe deeply as you stretch, clear your mind, and don’t push your body too hard – just stretch each muscle gently, and if you feel pain, it means you’ve gone too far.
Done correctly, stretching can truly be a zen moment in your day.
If you have any mobility issues and have questions as to which stretches are the best for you, talking to a doctor, as well as a personal trainer or fitness expert who specializes in your condition, is a wise idea.
-The Alternative Daily