If you don’t move it, you’ll lose it! Discover how regular stretching can help you feel great and look better – and why it’s especially important as you age.
By Denise Austin, America’s Favorite Fitness Expert
When you think about getting fit, building your strength with weights and going for the calorie burn with cardio may be what comes to mind. But there’s one more essential piece to the fitness puzzle — flexibility! Stretching does more than simply keep you limber. It can boost your fitness level by improving your range of motion, it helps prevent injury when you’re working out, and it helps keep arthritis and other joint diseases at bay.
In other words, if you don’t move it, you’ll lose it! Without stretching, your muscles will begin to tighten up as you age and you’ll lose your range of motion, making daily tasks like tying your shoes much more difficult. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get stretching! Here are simple tips for getting started.
- Take 10 minutes to stretch. You don’t need to commit a lot of time to stretching to really boost your flexibility. All it takes is 10 minutes a day to really feel the results!
- Stretch when your muscles are warm. Don’t just get up off the couch and start stretching – it’s much safer to warm up your muscles first. To prevent muscle pulls and other injuries, get ready with a gentle five-minute walk or jog, or even a warm bath.
- Think slow and smooth! Bouncing doesn’t boost the stretch — it just makes you more prone to injuries and tears. Aim for what is called a static stretch. Reach until you feel tension but not pain, and hold that position for 20 seconds to one minute.
- Make sure you have all your muscle groups covered. For instance, your neck and back might be forgotten in the rush to stretch out your hamstrings and shoulders. Choose moves that flex your muscles from head to toe!
- Forget about that old “no pain, no gain” saying. If a stretch hurts, stop doing it. It will take time for your body to gain maximum flexibility — so don’t rush it!
- Incorporate a few “stretch breaks” into your day. Sitting in front of a computer all day can create hunched shoulders and a weak lower back, plus put you at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Take a break every hour to stand and stretch your arms and legs, loosen up your wrists, and gently roll your neck from side to side.
- Consider trying yoga. It’s a centuries-old tradition that connects the mind, body, and spirit for a deep, stretching workout that leaves you feeling centered and calm. There’s also research that has shown yoga to be directly linked to weight loss. What’s not to love? Grab a mat and get started!
Written for Rite Aid by DeniseAustin.com