We all know exercising is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and that we should be stretching before and after. But how many of us actually stick around after a gym class or workout to properly stretch our limbs? Don’t worry, time often gets the better of us too. Stretching on its own can actually benefit your health and that’s without any high-impact movement.
Below are some benefits of stretching your body
1. You’ll release tension and calm your mind
A study by the University of California found stretching improved people’s wellbeing by giving their minds a mental break.
“It allows you to recharge and refresh the blood flow throughout your body, resulting in a calmer and more peaceful mindset,” the study said.
“Individuals carry stress in their muscles. When feeling overwhelmed, muscles tighten acting as a defensive strategy. The more you stretch, the less tense muscles will be.
“Because stretching allows for an increased blood and nutrient flow throughout the body, not only will you feel refreshed, but also your energy levels will be increased resulting in an improved sense of invigoration.”
Stretching is a very effective form of stress management. Even just 10-15 minutes will help.
According to chiropractor Doctor Simon Floreani stretching also “releases dopamine which helps you feel happier and more positive about the world”.
2. You’ll boost your performance during exercise
Dr Floreani told the Daily Telegraph “stretching loosens the muscles and tendons, which relieves muscle fatigue”.
“As we get older we become less flexible, as we spend so long at a desk or on the couch. By stretching, we’re warming up those sleepy areas of our body and reminding them it’s time to get moving,” he said.
So really taking an extra few minutes to properly stretch out means you’ll be able to get even more out of your exercise sessions. It will also increase your flexibility and reduce your risk of injury.
If you’d like some help to develop a stretching routine, check out these tips:
- The best stretches to start your workout: Women’s Health Magazine
- The best stretch for every body part: Men’s Health Magazine
- 5 post-workout stretches: Kayla Itsines
3. You’ll get a better night’s sleep
Moving your muscles by stretching regularly can also improve the quality of your sleep.
“When muscles stay still the blood pools … making you feel tired and sluggish,” Dr Floreani said.
“As soon as you move you nourish the muscles and improve your concentration levels as your brain gets some blood flow.”
Here’s some stretches you can do before bed time:
- 9 relaxing stretches you can do in bed
- Night-time stretching exercises
- The 2 minute stretch all desk workers should do before bed
There are many benefits of stretching so take the time to develop a stretching routine that works for you.