When most people think of fitness they think of cardiovascular and strength exercise—but if you want to get and stay fit, don’t forget to stretch. Stretching and flexibility exercises are an important component of any fitness regimen. In fact, flexibility is critical not just to athletic performance, but to overall health.
Stretching refers to a practice of elongating a muscle or muscle group to its fullest length. Though we may not realize it, stretching is actually a natural, instinctive behavior. Upon waking, most of us will instinctively reach our arms overhead and stretch from fingers to toes. Our body naturally craves a “stretch” after long periods of sitting or inactivity. This natural instinct is your body’s way of telling you that stretching is good.
Benefits of Stretching
Stretching offers numerous health and fitness benefits:
In order to gain the benefits of stretching, it’s important to stretch properly:
Ready to stretch? Learn about the value of static stretching and dynamic stretching—and when to use both.