Stretchercise for Health and Weight Loss
I never used to stretch. Then I lost over 186 pounds. Now I stretch.
If you do not exercise, you probably are not going to, so do what you can easily do for your health. If you do exercise, and you are going to continue, you can easily add stretching for your health. Take a lesson from cats.
Cats don’t exercise. They stretch a lot; cats stretch immediately in several directions when waking from sleep or a nap, and will most often stretch almost any time they go from lying or sitting to standing. They even stop to stretch just because as they’re walking somewhere.
Stretch your way to better health. Stretching has previously been considered a program for seniors or those recuperating; however, if you are overweight stretching may be a life saver for you. Stretching promotes elasticity in our muscles and joints and keeps us limber. How limber you are determines how you react to a slip and fall; it makes the difference between being injured and being able to catch yourself to prevent or minimize injury.
Stretching is also an excellent aid to diet and weight loss for the overweight or obese, and particularly for the morbidly obese; it is even appropriate for childhood adolescent obesity. The more overweight we are, the harder it is for us to exercise even if we want to: stretching lets us keep our muscles working and is the perfect way to enter the exercise arena as you lose weight.
Overweight and out of shape, or fit trim and in shape, any stretching program should start with care and caution. Consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Stretchercise as a program is done in multiple small doses many times during the day. If you do not exercise and get little physical motion, you should stretch for 2-5 minutes every hour.
One of the great things I discovered about stretching is that you can do it at length, with or without music, as an exercise program. Or you can do it for 30 seconds to a minute once an hour. In fact, much of it you can do while you’re working, as a stress reducing little multi-task. You can do it watching TV, you can do it when you cook: you can actually make any movement you make a stretch.
And it feels good. And it increases circulation. And it reduces stress, muscle tension and fatigue. And it gives the muscles in your back that have been supporting you a much needed periodic respite. And it gives you energy.
As we age, flexibility decreases: it’s use it or lose it. Stretching is an important factor in keeping muscles and joints flexible. The more flexible we are as we age, the fewer number of things become too hard for us to do, and the fewer aches and pains we have. Irrespective of health, it certainly extends our ability to maintain a satisfying quality of life. Stretchercising also helps if you have any weight control issues.
When stretching, you can use the corner of a wall as a stabilizing factor, which allows you to lean and stretch without fear of losing your balance. Whether you are doing your stretching on the floor, bed, in a chair, or standing, stretching to your favorite music tape will make time fly if you’re stretching to exercise. (Minimum time to call it stretchercise should be 3 minutes to start, and as you become accustomed to it gradually continue to increase the amount of time.)
Stretching at your computer, be it your arms or just easily leaning side to side is good for you. You can tighten and loosen muscles of the arms, legs, and derrière any place, most any time. You can roll your neck; this is a great tension buster and helps prevent headaches.
Be sure when you stretch that you only go as far as is comfortable. Stretching should never hurt. You will probably find that, over time, you will begin to be able to do each stretch a little further comfortably. You may want to do a little research at your local bookstore, library, or on the Internet about yoga; it will provide many ideas and much helpful information about healthy stretching.
One last great thing I discovered about stretching: there are so many ways, places, and times to do it and so many muscles that can, and should, be stretched, anybody can become a master stretcher by trial and stretchercise.