As I mentioned in an earlier article, stretching is an activity that can be done easily throughout different intervals of the day. Stretching is a type of physical activity that takes only a minute or two to do, but the results are beneficial in relieving stiffness, increasing blood flow, and even reducing eye strain that comes from looking at a computer screen for long periods of time. However, it’s not just these short bouts of stretching that are important. Studies have found that longer stretching routines make even more of an impact on health and wellness.
According to an article on the website Mayo.com, studies have found that stretching should be an activity that is incorporated into nearly everyone’s daily routine. The article states that stretching is NOT just an activity that should “take a back seat to your exercise routine.” In other words, even for athletes who are in excellent physical condition, stretching should still be included as part of the exercise routine and not just part of the “warm-up” or the “cool-down” phase.
I’ve been good about doing my yoga-type exercise and stretching for many years. Because I’ve been doing it since I was a teen-ager in high school, it’s already built into my morning routine that I perform usually four to five times per week. For me, I know that it has made a difference in helping me to maintain more flexibility and minimize stiffness, while giving me a somewhat “leaner” look because it lengthens ligaments and muscles.
Denise Austin, a bestselling author and expert in her field, has been an inspiration to me. Over the years, I have owned several of her books and DVDs, and I continue to use many of the basic exercises that she references. One of the books that I own is
Fit and Fabulous After 40: A 5-Part Program for Turning Back the Clock. Although it’s full of pictures and helpful information, she also explains why exercise is important as we age and how to target problem areas. For those interested in goal-setting, there is a 28-day challenge to get us started as the new year approaches.
My most common exercises are in three phases of about 7 to 8 minutes per phase. First, I do floor exercises such as single leg lifts, knee-to-chest stretches, and ab crunches. The second phase targets hamstrings, lower back, and hips. Lastly, I do various poses that are known in yoga-speak as the Cobra pose, the Pigeon pose, the Warrior pose, the Down Dog, and other miscellaneous stretches. This is what I’ve used as a basic routine for many years but there are many variations for these stretches. If certain poses are difficult, there are alternative ways to reach many of the same benefits. If doing stretches on the floor is not for you, then do the standing stretches. However, the important point is that one of the easiest and cheapest ways to maintain our health and safety is to stretch. This is why stretching is at the top of my daily list of priorities!
I’d love to hear your comments and find out what types of stretching you have used.