Black Women’s Health – 5 Benefits of Stretching
With our busy lives and hectic schedules, it can be hard to find the time and motivation to exercise and take care of our bodies in the way we should. However, as with other forms of exercise like aerobics and strength training, there are very real benefits to be gained from taking the time to stretch. Take a look at these five benefits to better understand the impact of stretching and how incorporating a routine into your daily schedule can improve your life.
1. Can help prevent injuries during exercise– Remember, exercise is more than going for a jog around the park or going to the gym for aerobics class. Exercise is anything that works your muscles and increases your heart rate. So when you hurriedly walk those five blocks to the train in the morning, or shovel the driveway after a heavy snowfall, you’re exercising! Stretching before beginning these everyday activities can help warm up your muscles, thereby assisting in the prevention of injury.
2. Can help improve athletic performance- Do you ever find yourself feeling heavy and sluggish during your workouts, particularly at the beginning? Does the discomfort that you feel in your shoulders, arms and legs ever seem so overwhelming that it prevents you from wanting to carry on with the rest of your routine and you stop early? If so, try stretching for ten to fifteen minutes beforehand. Warming up your muscles before beginning your exercise routine can reduce the feeling of sluggishness and tightness you feel at the beginning of your exercise routine. Feeling more loose and comfortable will make continuing and completing your workout a more palatable option.
3. Can help you relax and relieve tension- Many of our jobs and activities entail performing repeated movements or remaining in the same position or space for hours on end. Whether these activities seem physically strenuous or not, the truth is, over time they can lead to aches and tightness that linger in our bodies for hours after we have left the office. Even lifting, holding and playing with own children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews can leave us with these uncomfortable sensations. By taking a few minutes every day to stretch and massage the areas that cause you discomfort, the pain can be minimized and soothed. Furthermore, deep breathing and strain-relieving movements can help you relax, as you take a few moments for yourself to clear your mind and peacefully attend to your needs.
4. Allows you to be more flexible in your life and activities-Stretching increases flexibility, and can also increase strength. Increasing your strength and agility through a stretching regimen may allow you to engage in greater range of movements and positions more safely and comfortably. This means that everything from activities with the kids to positions in the bedroom will be more accessible to you. Give it a try! Stretching can add spice to life.
5. Can improve the symptoms of arthritis and help delay the onset of age-related stiffness-Stretching helps minimize the feelings of stiffness in multiple ways. It exercises the joints and surrounding muscle tissue. Stretching the limbs and moving them through their full range of motion stimulates blood flow and the delivery of important nutrients which promote joint health, and help to preserve the full, fluid movement of the limbs. Furthermore, as a form of exercise, certain stretches may help strengthen the muscles that surround joints. Strengthening these muscles can relieve some of the pressure placed on joints, thereby helping to preserve the joints, and minimize arthritis-related pain.
References and Resources:
Stretching: Focus on flexibility, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stretching/HQ01447
Types of Exercise, http://www.arthritis.org/types-exercise.php
For videos on stretching visit: http://www.arthritistoday.org/fitness/exercise-videos-and-photos/stretching-exercises/index.php