Stretching: An Antidote for a Sedentary Lifestyle
Sitting – “The New Smoking?”
You may have thought that stretching is just something that athletes do to warm up and prevent injuries, but that couldn’t be further than the truth! Stretching is just as important, if not more so, for people who live sedentary lifestyles.
The latest research indicates that “sitting is the new smoking” – sitting for prolonged periods of time, which many of us do at work, at home in the evenings, or in the car, can be detrimental to our immediate and long-term health.
Why Do I Need to be Stretching?
Benefits of stretching include improved flexibility, increased circulation, increased energy (due to increased circulation), relief from stress, and prevention of injuries. But also worth mentioning are some of the things that can happen if you DON’T stretch: over time, your muscles can shorten and tighten, making you much more prone to injuries and much less flexible. It’s important to counteract this by adding in a few simple stretches to your daily routine – here are a few to get you started.
How to Get Started
Neck stretch: Stand up (to stretch your legs at the same time!) and tilt your head slowly from side to side, holding each stretch for about 20 seconds.
Shoulder shrugs: Roll your shoulders forwards for 20 seconds, then reverse the direction and repeat.
Wrist and forearm stretch: Stand or sit upright. Extend left arm, palm outwards and fingertips upwards. Keeping your shoulders relaxed, use your right hand to apply pressure to your left hand, like you were pulling your fingers towards your shoulder. Breathe deeply and hold for 10-30 seconds.
Torso twist: Sitting up straight in your chair, inhale deeply and on the exhale, turn towards the left and grab hold of your chair back with your left hand and the chair arm with your right. Keep your eyes level, and slowly pull on the chair to stretch your back as far as it will go. Be sure to do this gently.
Leg extensions (great for abs too): extend one leg at a time in front of you, parallel to the floor. Flex and point your toes slowly.