Stretching is something we do quite naturally. When we wake up in the morning, we get out of bed and we stretch. When we’ve been sitting a long time, we get up and stretch. The statement “I’m going to stretch my legs”
Yes stretching is very natural, because your body naturally requires stretching, like you lungs require oxygen, however, when we think about being healthier, or losing and maintaining a healthy weight, we don’t think of stretching as something that is important. Nothing could be further from the truth. How can something the body does naturally not be important?
Have you considered stretching to lose weight? You’re probably wondering how could stretching help me lose weight? Well stretching exercises done on a regular basis helps your body to move more comfortably. This in turn will encourage you to move more.
While stretching exercises are not big calorie burners on their own, the increased daily movement you exhibit plays an important role in a weight loss program. If you are trying to lose weight, you should. Include stretching exercises as part of your daily routine. They’re low impact, motivators and extremely beneficial to your body.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Health and other sources, stretching helps improve flexibility and the range of motion of your joints. This is particularly important as one gets older and begins to complain about aches, pains, muscle and joint stiffness.
Why is stretching important?
Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.
Stretching For Weight Loss
The best thing about stretching is that you don’t have to do it very often or for very long periods of time to enjoy the benefits. Do a few minutes of stretching each day and it will help to improve the range of motion in your joints, it can also help to decrease the risk of injury during more strenuous exercises, and can reduce stress.
Generally when we think of stretching, we think of a runner folded over an outstretched leg, or a gymnast doing a split on a balance beam or a ballerina on a barre. Those are special or extraordinary cases, done by people that have been training since they were young.
For those of us who are not in that category, remember…Like changing you eating habits to a healthier lifestyle, consistency is important. The key to consistency is not overdoing it, rather taking small steps as you work towards your goals. This is what makes Diet Rite such a great program.
We understand these processes take time for the mind and body to adapt and incorporate. We give you encouragement and support as you go through each process. Eating healthier, exercising regularly, learning to make better food choices and more. Please, do not take what we offer lightly. Having someone to talk to while on this journey is critically important and needs to be taken seriously… Sorry it needed to be said.. Back to our article
Even though you won’t burn mega calories during a short stretching session, your body will function better when your joints move more comfortably. This will improve your weight loss progress in several different ways.
· Decreased Stress
Stretching exercises help to get your blood pumping, but not in a way that increases your adrenaline. Stretching and breathing exercises help to improve your mood and lower your stress level.
This is especially helpful for people who are trying to curb emotional eating. If you can replace the trip to the refrigerator with five minutes of healthy stretching, you’re likely to eat less and lose weight faster
- Improve posture
Tight muscles can cause poor posture. The chest, upper and lower back and hips are particularly susceptible. Tight muscles in these areas can cause poor posture. Many of us spend an unhealthy portion of our day sitting at a computer or looking at a phone or tablet.
These prolonged positions, rounded shoulders and head bent down result in the development of poor posture that will worsen over time. We can improve on this by stretching and breathing. Stretching the chest, upper and lower back,the shoulders and hamstring muscles, to name a few.
- Improved range of motion
As we age, our joints lose range of motion. We can counteract this by stretching regularly. Even if range of motion in some joints is limited, stretching can help to improve this. If we stretch regularly, we can prevents loss of range of motion and reduce the risk of joint replacement surgeries which is on an alarming rise.
- Decrease back pain.
This goes hand in hand with good posture. If we have poor posture in the upper back, the lower back compensates. This will often result in low back pain. Also, if we have tight hamstrings or hip flexors, the lower back compensates and can develop pain. Stretching the leg muscles and the muscles mentioned for posture will likely help to decrease back pain.
We know stretching before physical activity is important, but stretching every day regardless of physical activity is important as well. You may think of stretching as something performed only by athletes, but we all need to stretch in order to protect our mobility and independence.
Most prople don’t understand that stretching should be done on a regular basis. The result of not understanding this, is developing stiff muscles and losy range of motion and flexibility. As we age, we believe this is just a natural part of “getting old” we head to the doctor, whose option is generally surgery to replace our joints. Just like we don’t believe that our eating habits also causes many of the aches, pains and ailments we suffer from.
Where Do I Start?
The idea of daily stretching may seem overwhelming. However, it is important to remember, like changing your eating lifestyle to a healthier one, like developing an exercise routine to tone up, that this is a process. You don’t have to stretch for extended periods of time, short stretches, a couple times a day, is very beneficial. In doing so, you can focus a short stretch to target certain parts of your body.
The areas to concentrate on for mobility are in your lower extremities: your calves, your hamstrings, your hip flexors in the pelvis and quadriceps in the front of the thigh. Stretching your shoulders, neck, and lower back is also beneficial. Stretching at least three or four times per week will prove enormously beneficial.
The cumulative effect of stretching
Stretching once today won’t magically give you perfect flexibility. You’ll need to do it over time and remain committed to the process. There’s years of damage and poor habits that can’t be reversed as quickly as we would like, so you’re not going to be perfectly flexible after one or two sessions. It takes time, patience and consistency to get flexible, and you’ll have to continue working on it to remain so.
A hamstring stretch will keep the muscles in the back of your thigh flexible. Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. Slide your hands down your legs until you feel a burning sensation. Hold for 30 seconds, then slowly return to a sitting position.
We used to believe that stretching was necessary to warm up the muscles and prepare them for activity. However, mounting research has shown that stretching the muscles before they’re warmed up can actually hurt them.
“When the muscles are cold/tight, they aren’t prepared for an aggressive stretch and may be damaged. If you warm up/exercise first, you’ll get blood flow to the areas, and that makes the tissue more pliable and more prepared for stretching. All it takes to warm up the muscles before stretching is five to 10 minutes of light activity, such as a quick walk. You can also stretch after an aerobic or weight-training workout.
Hold a stretch for 30 seconds. Don’t bounce, which can cause injury. You’ll feel tension during a stretch, it may feel like pain but it’s not. If you feel a sharp pain, there may be an injury or damage in the tissue. Stop stretching that muscle and talk to your doctor.
Stretching, when done properly, relaxes the body, It allows the muscles to lengthen and relieves the tension in the muscles allowing them more flexibility.
Calories Burned By Stretching
Stretching doesn’t burn a lot of calories. For more caloric burning, you should combine stretching with additional exercises like jogging, calisthenics, or even walking. But stretching does burn a few extra calories.
- A 125-pound person burns about 70 calories performing a 30-minute stretching routine
- A 150-pound person burns about 85 calories performing a 30-minute stretching routine
- A 200-pound person burns about 113 calories performing a 30-minute stretching routine
Sample Stretching Routine
So what stretching exercises should you do? You can do simple stretches when you get out of bed each morning, or after you’ve done a cardio or strength training workout. Consider these easy options. You can do this whole routine in about
- Full body roll.
Stand tall and reach your arms towards the sky. Then relax the arms and roll the spine down. Let your arms relax towards the floor. Keep the knees bent to protect your back. Hold the position for 5 to 15 seconds,while continuing to breathe, then slowly roll back up and repeat.
- Reaching the arms over your head, gently curve the bodyinto the shape of a C (or a crescent moon) by bending the body to the left and then to the right. Stay in the stretch on each side for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Neck and shoulder stretches
In a seated or standing position, gently tilt the chin towards your chest and feel a gentle release in the back of the neck. Then slowly and carefully roll the head to the left and to the right to stretch the sides of the neck. You may feel the stretch into the top of each shoulder.Chest opener.
In a seated or standing position, clasp the hands together behind your back. Feel the front of the chest open and stretch. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, then repeat.Hip and inner thigh stretch.
In a seated position, bring the soles of the feet together in front of your body so that your legs form a diamond shape. Keeping the spine long, tilt forward from the hips, bringing your chest closer to the floor. It’s normal if you can’t bend very far. Remember to keep breathing as you hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
These stretches will help to loosen up your joints and start your day with healthy movement. You might also choose to do these stretches in the office while you are at work.
If you have time at lunch or before or after work, you can also take a yoga class to stretch and lose weight, or you can try tai chi. Both of these mind/body practices help to improve flexibility and reduce stress.