Reach For The Benefits Of Stretching

Stretching is often a bit of a foreign topic. Some people may associate it with yoga and think it’s way out of their league, and others just think it’s something they might do when they first wake up, accompanied by a huge yawn.

RELATED: A Beginner’s Guide To Yoga

Stretching is one thing that many people neglect to do everyday and don’t place much importance on, but getting a good stretch is really great for your body. Whether you’re actually exercising, or just going about your day to day activities, you should always make a small amount of time to stretch out your muscles.

Stretching in general has many benefits – not necessarily directly related to exercise, but of course there are quite a few upsides to stretching before and/or after your workout.

Let’s look at the benefits of stretching in relation to every day life and exercise, to help us understand why we need to stretch and why a flexibility workout like yoga is so good for us.

Everyday benefits of stretching:

1. It wakes you up

Stretching has been proven to make you feel more awake, which is especially helpful when you’re at work and it hits 3 o’clock. Stretching helps to move blood that has pooled in your muscles and makes you feel tired and sluggish. So instead of pulling that chocolate bar from your drawer to wake you up in the afternoon, have a stretch to feel more energised and to avoid those unwanted kilos.

2. It’s a stress buster

When you get stressed your muscles contract and become tense, which can impact your body in a negative way. By stretching out your muscles, it can help to relax those that become balled with stress and endorphins are released which help to improve your mood and also help you sleep better.

3. It gets rid of back pain

Stretching is a great way to strengthen muscles and help them to become more flexible. Sitting at your desk all day can affect your posture, which can cause your lower back to become sore. Stretching those muscles that affect your posture, like your hip flexors and your back, can strengthen these muscles and get rid of soreness.

stretching, benefits

Exercise related benefits of stretching:

1. Flexibility

One of the main reasons that people stretch is to increase their flexibility. Having good flexibility can help you improve the way you do exercises and can also reduce the risk of injury if your muscles are stretched nicely. Flexibility allows you to exercise more easily and is especially important to maintain as your age increases.

2. It increases circulation

Stretching increases the blood flow and supply of nutrients to the muscles. This means that stretching helps to reduce muscle soreness after working out, which means that you won’t have to hold onto the wall when trying to sit on the toilet after leg day.

3. You can get more out of your workout

When you stretch your muscles and tendons become looser and easier to work with, which as a result reduces muscle fatigue. This means that you’ll be able to get a longer, better workout than if you didn’t stretch, which essentially means you can burn more kilojoules.

So get stretching, whether it’s in front of the television after work or while you’re in the gym. There are so many benefits to stretching that will have you feeling good and get your muscles in better condition.

Imgae via Healthy Habits Matter and The Reality of You

February 27, 2015

Pregnancy Exercise You Can Do At Home

Looking for the right exercises to do while pregnant? We’ve chosen our favourite simple pregnancy exercises that help you stay in shape, as well as easing aches and pains. Best of all, you can do them at home!

The best pregnancy exercise is any movement that isn’t too strong or complex. As much as you loved those cardio exercises you did a few months ago, those classes are a little too involved for pregnant women. Learning what you can do while pregnant can help you stay fit and keep you from gaining too much weight during your pregnancy.
Pregnant Yoga
Yoga is one of the best pregnancy exercise routines around. Yoga is an ancient art that strives to form a connection between the mind, body and spirit. It often involves the use of deep breathing, which will come in handy when you find yourself in labour.The cat-cow movement is a simple movement that will keep both mother and baby safe. While kneeling on all fours, slowly round your back as you push into a cat pose before releasing the breath and flattening your back. This movement can reduce the back pain that you feel later in your pregnancy.Another good movement is a side lay. Lay down on your right side with your right hand holding your head and a pillow placed between your knees. Take a few deep breaths while in this position before slowly releasing your breath.

Pregnant Pilates
Pilates was designed to help patients recovering from injuries and patients with limited mobility, so it’s perfect for pregnant women. Many of the exercises strengthen the core muscles, which can help you when it comes to your posture and balance, but you’ll also learn movements that can help you battle labour pains. Some women even find that their contractions lessen when they take Pilates classes.

If you’re interested in the idea of taking a Pilates class, meet with the instructor beforehand. Talk about what stage of pregnancy you are in, and ask for suggestions on alternative movements you can do in class. A good instructor will recommend ways to adjust the routine.

Make sure that you avoid any movements that involve supporting your weight with your hands or sitting on your stomach. Laying on your stomach can feel uncomfortable and disrupt the baby, while resting on your hands can cause carpel tunnel syndrome or weaken the muscles in your hands.

When you need a good pregnancy exercise that you can do at home, turn to simple stretches. These stretches strengthen the muscles in your body and relieve the aches and pains that you feel during your pregnancy.

One good stretch is the pelvic tilt. Stand up straight with your back pressed against the wall, and gently press back until your lower back touches the wall as you inhale. Slowly exhale as you release the position and move your back away from the wall.

If you have a fitness ball handy, try the torso rotation to reduce pressure on your lower back. Sit flat on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you and the fitness ball in your hands. Lift the ball straight out in front of you and slowly move as far to the right as you can before coming back to center and twisting to the left.

These simple exercises can help you stay fit throughout your pregnancy, alleviating muscle aches and pains and help you prepare for labour.

What are your favourite pregnancy exercises?
December 12, 2013