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Benefits of Stretching

By Sarah S – Jenny Craig

Have you heard about professional football players taking ballet classes? It’s true! Stretching and flexibility are two of the reasons why. Stretching enhances flexibility, increases range of motion, prevents injury and can rejuvenate the spirit. This is beneficial on the football field and in everyday life. In addition, many find stretching an effective stress management tool. It’s amazing how just a few minutes can make such a difference in your day!

What does stretching have to do with weight loss?

There’s a direct connection between stretching and weight loss. In general, there isn't a big calorie burn from stretching, but there are benefits that link the two:

 

  • Weight loss and well-being go hand-in-hand. When you are feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, you may be less likely to turn to food for comfort. 
  • Stretching can improve flexibility and help to prevent injury. When you are agile and injury-free, you may be able to push yourself harder in your workout routine and burn more calories.
  • High stress can often lead to poor sleeping and eating habits. Lowering your stress levels with stretching could help you sleep and eat better.

Stretching tips

Be careful to stretch the right way at the right times to avoid injuring yourself.

  • Stretch your muscles only when they are “warm.” Dynamic stretches are a great way to warm your muscles up. Try doing arm circles, jumping jacks, lunges or hip circles. Try to avoid stretching before your muscles are warmed up! It's equally as important to stretch after a workout. 
  • Hold the stretch to the point of mild tension for 15-30 seconds.
  • Avoid bouncing or jerking movements.
  • Focus on your breath to optimize the movement. Take one long breath in, then let it out slowly as your perform the stretch.
  • Allow yourself to relax and experience the mind-body connection.

What about yoga?

Yoga is an ancient practice that offers many modern benefits. Translated from Sanskrit, it means “yoke” or union, and symbolizes the link between body and mind. Consisting of gentle stretching, balance and strengthening exercises, yoga is performed slowly with a focus on the breath. Woven together as a combination of postures, yoga can be both energizing and relaxing.

 

Start out with gentle yoga; and overtime, if you wish, you can progress to more vigorous types of yoga that elevate the heart rate for longer and lead to a greater calorie burn. No matter the type of yoga you practice, you can benefit from the physical activity (even when light), stretching and relaxation, and mind-body awareness.

 

Flexibility is one of the three aspects of physical fitness. If you focus only on cardio and resistance training, you’ll miss the third component. A three-legged stool doesn’t function well with one missing leg. This is how you should think about flexibility. Include stretching in your fitness routine for optimal health and wellness.

 


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