If you’ve jumped out of bed and headed straight to your favorite cardio class or machine, you may have already learned the hard way why stretching is important. Taxing muscles that are not warmed up and ready to work is risking easily avoidable injury. Incorporating a stretching routine into your workout, or even into your resting days, is a healthy habit that will pay off in ways above and beyond injury prevention, flexibility and athletic performance.
Check out these benefits of stretching that you may not have even considered. Experts agree a few minutes a day can help promote a lifetime of wellbeing.
Top 5 Benefits of Stretching
A Glass Half Full
The body holds stress in a number of ways, one of which is causing muscles to contract and spasm. Stretching exercises will loosen those muscles, and encourage the release of endorphins which will relieve stress and create a sense of tranquility. Stretching when you wake up helps jump start both the brain and body into a feeling of optimism with which to face the day. Stretching before bed will enhance your sleeping experience.
Stretching has a powerful effect on posture. By lengthening tight muscles that pull areas of the body into misalignment, stretching not only reduces aches and pains but improves overall posture. When muscles are supple and flexible, there is less tendency to hunch or slouch.
By loosening muscles and tendons, stretching increases blood flow and relieves muscle fatigue. The result is a higher level of endurance, allowing you to increase the length of your workouts. During a long day of sitting, muscles can tighten and make us feel lethargic. if you find your energy flagging, mid-work assignment or watching the kids, get out of your chair and perform a few good stretches. You’ll create a burst of energy that will help your mind and body stay alert.
Love Your Heart
As your stretching routine increases blood flow to your muscles, you’ll expect reduced post workout muscle soreness. But you may also receive a benefit you do not expect. Greater blood circulation supports improved overall health by promoting cell growth and organ function and lowering blood pressure. And let’s not forget, paired with a healthy diet, prolonged stretching exercises can be instrumental in lowering cholesterol. While you are going through your stretching routine, your heart will be thanking you.
Lower Your Blood Sugar
While it’s widely known that exercise helps keep glucose levels at bay, research shows those benefits may occur even before you put one foot on the treadmill. A study of adults with type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetic sugar levels found that 40 minutes of stretching after drinking a sugary beverage had a positive impact on blood sugar. Those who actually stretched had lower levels than those who merely assumed the positions but did not stretch their muscles.
Take a few minutes each day to reap the benefits of stretching. You’re not just performing exercises. You’re making a daily investment in your overall health and wellbeing.