True confession: when my workout video reaches the end and it is time to stretch, I take that as my cue to flip it off, grab my water, and get on with my day. I’m not afraid to admit it — even as a Health and Wellness Coach and Personal Trainer — I have never really made time for stretching.
Until recently, that is. I discovered some surprising benefits of stretching that made me raise an eyebrow, and then raise my arms above my head and do a side bend.
I’ve always known that stretching was important, but it always seemed like extra credit. Stretching lengthens tight muscles, improves flexibility, and aids in the recovery process after a workout. Stretching also feels good and can protect our joints and muscles from injury. And, stretching can be one of the secret weapons in the fight against aging.
Here are three great reasons to stretch today.
Lower Your Risk of Blood Clots
Remember when having a video call was a novel, high-tech diversion in the work day? Now, we spend hours staring into the tiny little camera on our laptops, sometimes hunched over with our legs crossed for hours at a time.
Stretching can literally be a lifesaver when we uncross our legs, stand up, and get our blood flowing again. When we sit for too long, blood pools and increases the risk of clots that could move to our lungs.
Get up and stretch your legs every half hour. A static calf stretch is all you need to get things moving again!
Offsets Some Effects of Aging
Your body has been with you through thick and thin, since day one. You’ve had some good times! But while you may still feel 21 years old, your body is aging. Thankfully, stretching can help ease the process.
We all lose muscle strength and size as our bodies age; even Arnold Schwarzenegger’s muscles are getting smaller, though you may not notice it for a while. The bad news is that this will happen to everyone, but the good news is that with strength training and, yes, stretching, we can just about keep up.
Stretching regularly maintains flexibility, which makes it easier to complete the range of motion exercises used in strength training. Stretching keeps joints well-lubricated, making it easier to stay mobile. If you have a goal of keeping up with the grandchildren, consider adopting a morning or evening stretching routine. Your Wellview Health Advisor can help you get started.
Stretching Makes You Happier
It’s not your imagination when you feel more clear-minded, happier, and energized after a good stretch. Stretching stimulates endorphins to be released by your brain, helping your nervous system to soothe pain and leading to a sense of wellbeing. Stretching can help you feel calmer before a big meeting, and to refocus on a project when the afternoon feels longer than usual.
When you’re on that conference call that won’t quit, stand up and stretch. You just may get that next big idea!
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Heather Fuselier, CHWC, CFP, TTS
Health Advisor | Email Heather