Daily stretching is a habit that can really improve your life, bit by bit. If you’re one of those people who believe they can’t squeeze in a workout in their day, at least focus on your flexibility. Stretching is as important as any exercise, for the following benefits:
- It increases circulation in the body
- It improves your range of motion
- It calms you down in mind and body
- It helps your body resist injuries
- It boosts the immune system
- It can lower your blood sugar
- It helps lessen stress
- It helps you sleep better
Surprising, right? No wonder so many are doing yoga or tai-chi and other similar practices that encourage some form of bodily stretching. Here are some ways to insert a proper, beneficial stretching routine in your busy schedule.
- Do a morning stretch energizer. Starting your day with a stretch routine will help you limber up from being curled up or splattered flat in bed (which often results in an assortment of aches and pains). Beginner yoga stretches are relatively easy to start with. (Try this simple morning yoga routine from Prevention magazine.)
- Do a 10AM and 3PM “stretch break”. You know that feeling of sluggishness around two hours into work? Whether it’s two hours in from the morning or after lunch break, a stretch break will energize you better than a coffee. Just a few minutes of stretching will encourage blood flow through your entire body—including your brain, which helps you feel less “blah” and dull. Take five minutes to stretch. (Tip: Try these eight stretches you can do at your office desk.)
- Prepare-yourself-for-bed stretching. Getting a good night’s sleep after a long day at work is #goals. You don’t want to plunk into bed tired, because you will not be setting yourself up for a relaxed sleep. Find a stretching routine that will clear your mind and relax your body properly.
- Try this simple seated stretch that targets your neck, shoulders, back, and obliques:
- On the floor, sit on pillow with your legs crossed.
- Place left hand on floor to side of hip, slightly bending your left elbow.
- Extend your right arm over your head, leaning a bit to left. (Make sure your bottom is evenly
- on the pillow, and keep your shoulders down.)
- Hold for 8 to 10 breaths.
- Switch sides; repeat two more times.
Of course, stretching alone doesn’t replace proper, regular exercise. Regular stretching will make you less likely to injure yourself, as well as prime you for a better workout, so stretch in connection with your regular workout, whether it’s a full-on gym regimen or a simple daily run.