The Importance of Stretching
You know that drinking enough water helps maintain a healthy diet and that getting a good night’s sleep is critical to your overall health, but did you know that you should incorporate stretching into your day-to-day routine?
Whether you run 10 miles a day or spend the majority of your day sitting at a desk, stretching should be added to your daily schedule. Bob Forman, Manager of the CaroMont Health & Fitness Center, is a firm believer that all of us, young and old, should be limbering up every day. Why? According to Forman, “Our muscles tend to tighten if we are not using them. This shortening can lead to misalignment in the body, which enhances the normal wear and tear. As a result, aches and pains can develop, as can arthritis and the need for joint replacement. Active muscles, too, will tighten if not stretched, so don’t think you’re immune to these consequences if you work out.”
The average American adult sits between eight and 10 hours a day. You can improve your health by reducing your sitting time. Forman notes that it is more important for people who sit to add time to their schedules for stretching. While there is no ideal time to stretch during the day, he suggests taking breaks once an hour during the workday to revitalize your body. “The more you stretch," Forman says, "the more blood and oxygen get pumped through your body—and the brain loves oxygen.”
Forman adds that studies have shown creativity is enhanced when people are active, meaning these “movement breaks” can help you think better during the workday, too. But it’s not just important for your mental health to get moving. Forman notes that sitting can lead to a number of health risks including muscle atrophy, hypertension, osteoporosis, obesity, fatigue and low energy. In some cases, sitting too much can even lead to diabetes, cancer or heart disease.
Ready to get moving but not sure where to start? Simple, small movements like the ones below are easy to rotate into your day, and you won’t have to leave your desk to do them.
- Alternating arm reaches overhead
- Seated hamstring stretches
- Trunk rotational stretches
- Shoulder circles
- Head tilts
Standing desks are all the rage and for good reason. Forman notes: “Standing burns about a half calorie more per minute and reduces the lower body orthopedic concerns that sitting presents. Plus, people tend to fidget when standing, so the additional movement will help you burn even more calories and will help push blood around the body.”
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