Everybody knows that in order to maintain a healthy body, movement is a must. But a lot of people get caught up in the all-or-nothing approach — thinking that if you aren’t working up a serious sweat, you’re not getting any results from the exercise. It turns out that isn’t true at all. In fact, studies show that stretching is a critical part of your overall health and fitness. Here are a few of the whys — and hows — to get those muscles moving.
The dangers of sitting too much
We happen to be living at a time when most people spend the majority of their day sitting. Stretching is the antidote to a lot of the negative impacts that come with being a hard-working desk dweller. First of all, stretching helps alleviate and prevent pain and posture issues. And, believe it or not, breaking up prolonged periods of sitting can also lower your glucose and insulin levels. By adding movement to your day, you can help prevent some of the undesirable conditions that are caused by chronic sitting including DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) — which causes everything from pain in your legs to a life-threatening pulmonary embolism — to an elevated risk of heart disease and diabetes. The list of benefits is extensive, while the amount of time and effort…well, isn’t.
The benefits of stretching at work
When it comes to workplace stretching, there’s even more to feel great about. According to a 2009 WELCOA report, Benefits of WorkSmart Stretching for the Workplace, there are a number of benefits to taking breaks to move throughout the day. One, a reduced risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), like sprains and strains of the lower back, shoulders, and knees. And while you’re also reducing the risk of cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs), such as rotator cuff injuries, tendonitis, tennis elbow, “Blackberry” thumb, and good old-fashioned stress, you’re actually increasing your productivity. Now those are some serious “why”s.
Recommendations for mid-day stretches
As for the hows, well, there are many of those too. Here are a few tips and exercises to get you into this healthy habit. Chances are, you’ll find it helpful to decide on a few times a day that work well for you to take a break. If you tend to be heads down, not watching the clock, then set an alarm to remind yourself to stop what you’re doing and simply stretch.
You can begin with this ankle stretch — this is really helpful if you sit and place a fair amount of weight on your feet throughout the day. Then do a standing twist. This is more than a great stretch — it really gets your blood flowing. Then slow things down a bit with a final move, the standing side stretch. Once you master these? Well, you can mix it up by adding in your favorite stretches, or taking a Gixo stretching class.
While nobody can help the fact that sitting is a huge part of our lifestyle and workplace these days, being someone who gets up to stretch will give you a health and energy advantage. And, let’s be honest…who couldn’t use a little edge around the office?