Since elementary school, we’ve been taught to stretch. Why? To improve flexibility, balance and strength, and to help avoid injuries. But did you know that stretching is great for your cardiovascular system too? Slow, deliberate stretching—where you’re focused on what you’re doing and breathing deeply and slowly—can:
Want an easy way to help keep yourself nimble and feeling heart-healthy? Try incorporating stretching exercises into your daily routine. One of the best things about stretching is that every movement is adaptable. And you can practice stretching through Pilates, tai chi, yoga and other formal programs that are available by video on YouTube and in classes at local fitness facilities.
Easier than that, though, is making up your own stretching routine at home. You can do it with or without equipment, such as a towel, fabric strap, yoga block or elastic band, to help increase your range of motion.
Stretching has four basic requirements:
Here are six full-body stretches that you can do in five to 10 minutes a day. You’ll hold each position for five to 10 seconds and repeat each full movement three to five times. Pay attention to your breathing, and move s-l-o-w-l-y:
As you become stronger and more limber, deepen your stretches and hold them longer, up to 30 seconds. Want to try more advanced routines? Check out these flexibility moves.
If you haven’t been active for a while, your body will need time to adjust to the new strain. Pace yourself and, if necessary, stretch every other day for the first couple of weeks. If you feel sore, reach for Teladoc. Our board-certified physicians can help diagnose and recommend treatment for a wide variety of conditions, including back and body aches, headaches, muscle strain, seasonal allergies (which may flare up if you exercise outdoors) and more. Make sure you have the app so that you’ll have 24/7 access to non-emergency medical treatment anywhere you are, even if you’re stuck on the floor.
Stay safe, and remember: “Bend and stretch, reach for the stars!”
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