You may not be in PE class anymore, but stretching should still be part of your fitness routine.
Maintaining flexibility is important, especially if you sit at a desk all day. Stretching boosts energy, releases tension and improves circulation. Other stretching benefits include improved posture, decreased muscle tension and healthier joints.
Keeping your muscles and joints healthy makes physical activity easier and more enjoyable, and it can help prevent injuries. Physical activity is an important part of cancer prevention. To lower your cancer risk, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.
“When done right, stretching helps you feel less sore after an intense workout,” says Corinna Perez, a fitness specialist at MD Anderson. “It also improves your flexibility, allowing you to exercise for longer, more challenging sessions.”
Maximize your stretch
Follow these tips to get the most out of your stretching.
- Don’t stretch cold muscles. Warm up for five to 10 minutes by walking, cycling or using an elliptical machine before you stretch. Stretching cold muscles can lead to injury.
- Maintain proper posture. Avoid injury by keeping your back straight.
- Don’t force it. Stretch in gentle, slow movements. Never bounce or force your body to do something painful.
- Remember to breathe. Take long, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Stretch throughout the day. Perez suggests stretching every hour during the day to stay loose and relaxed. Be sure to do simple stretches and don’t overstretch cold muscles if you’ve been sitting most of the day.
Make stretching a priority when you work out. The long-term benefits are worth the few extra minutes, and you’ll be more likely to keep your joints healthy and enjoy exercising for many more years.