Everyone is so busy, even many retirees (especially Type A retirees!), that even those who are die-hard exercisers often neglect to do stretching. I know when I was working I rarely found time to stretch. Of what I call the “Big 4” pillars of diet & exercise—nutrition, cardiorespiratory exercise, resistance/weight training, and stretching—stretching is the most likely to be neglected.
There are some fair reasons why stretching is last on the list of most people’s diet & exercise priorities. You need to maintain your diet to not get fat, so that is quite important. Cardiorespiratory exercise also keeps you from getting fat, and keeps your heart, lungs, and the rest of your body healthy. Resistance training helps to keep weight off and makes you look buff. So what does stretching do? Not enough, you reason, and since you are busy and eventually run out of energy at the end of the day, stretching becomes the “red-headed stepchild” of your diet & exercise program.
Well, that stepchild deserves better!
I will write many articles about the benefits of specific types of stretching. Once you become more knowledgeable about stretching, and especially once you start actually doing it and experiencing the usefulness of it, I think you will make it a higher priority in your life.
Here are the 5 key reasons you should start stretching:
- Reduced pain, especially in areas prone to age-related physical problems like the neck and lower back.
- Increased flexibility and mobility, helping to make you a better exerciser, but also making daily activities, travel, etc. easier and more fun.
- Relaxation, in that stretching has the benefit of focusing and quieting your mind and relaxing your body.
- Improved posture, which reduces age-related physical problems and makes you appear more youthful.
- Releasing energy. I have found that stretching the muscles relieves tightness in your joints and muscles and has the effect of releasing energy that makes you more vibrant and lively.
I will expand on the 5 key benefits of stretching in future posts, as well as instruct you on how to obtain all of these benefits by spending just 15 minutes twice per week on a few simple exercises.