Have you ever noticed that when you are flexible with your plans, life feels easier? Our bodies are like that, too. When we have physical flexibility, we move fluidly and easily in everything we do.
Stretching after strength training or aerobic exercise helps loosen muscles that may have tightened, balancing your body.
Stretching on its own is great any time for improving your range of motion and increasing circulation, allowing more blood flow to all body parts including your brain. With regular stretching, you can even improve your posture and relax your mind.
You can begin a stretching plan at any age. Talk with your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen, especially if you are new to physical activity or are resuming after a long break.
- Stretch easily and gently, only until you feel slight tension
- Don't bounce
- Stop before you feel pain
- Breathe deeply, exhaling as you relax into each stretch
Good Times to Stretch:
- First thing in the morning
- After sitting or standing for long periods
- When you feel stiff or anxious
- While watching television or sitting at your desk
- Before falling asleep
YogaDating back thousands of years, yoga continues to be a popular stretching program, and ranges from very gentle and slow forms to more rigorous power yoga that incorporates balance and strength with flexibility.
Tai Chi or QigongAlso dating back thousands of years, tai chi and qigong are series of slow, gentle motions that circulate the body's energy while loosening joints. Most movements can be done sitting or standing.
PilatesCreated in the early 1900s, Pilates is a system of exercises that increase flexibility, strength and coordination through mind-body control. While often done with machines, simpler version of Pilates can be done using only a floor mat.
Gymnastics or SwimmingMore vigorous activities including gymnastics and swimming allow muscles to stretch and elongate while boosting your heart rate.
Whatever your stretching plan is, try to do it three times per week. Your body and mind will love you for it.
Improve flexibility in a yoga class.
Judi Sheppard Missett, who turned her love of jazz dance into a worldwide dance exercise phenomenon, founded the Jazzercise dance fitness program in 1969. The workout program, which offers a fusion of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga and cardio box movements, has positively affected millions of people. Benefits include increased cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility, as well as an overall "feel good" factor. For more information go to jazzercise.com or call (800) FIT-IS-IT.