After being so physical during the holiday season with everything we do to prepare for them, most of us would probably benefit from today’s guest post by Rachel. Keep reading for 5 easy stretches you can do to improve your health and well-being!
We’re constantly told that the key to a long, happy and healthy life is to move more; to be more active. But most of us don’t have much choice in our sedentary state, as from the hours of 9am to 5pm (or more likely 8am to 6pm), we find ourselves desk bound, tapping away at our computers.
And the news gets worse as we age. With the addition of wisdom, worldliness and wrinkles our muscles tighten and lose size and strength, resulting in a restriction of our range of motion. Bending down to lift an item off the floor or zipping up the back of a dress becomes increasingly difficult over time. This is all exacerbated by the amount of time we spend sitting at our desks and lounging on the sofa.
By continuing in the same inactive routine we increase our risk of:
- developing varicose veins
- muscles becoming stiff and tight, increasing aches and pains
- slowing our metabolic rate, which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure and break down fat
The good news is that you don’t have to work up an intense sweat to make a difference. Implementing a few small changes can help combat negative health effects and you can fit them neatly into a busy lifestyle. Adding a few simple stretches to your day can help relieve aches and pains, increase flexibility and improve blood circulation around the body.
Here are 5 easy stretches that can improve your health with very little effort:
Stretch 1 – The all body stretch
You might already do this without even realizing, but stretching out your whole body first thing after you wake up has been proven to increase blood flow around the body, as well as begin to relieve dull aches and pains. So, after your alarm has rung, spare a minute or two for a good stretch. Start by reaching with both hands to the roof and then angling your stretch from side to side. Next, place your hands on your lower back and arch it, pushing your stomach forward. You’ll find yourself feeling more awake and relaxed as soon as you’ve finished!
Stretch 2 – The shoulder shrugs
This stretch is really simple and you can easily fit it into your working day. All you need to do is sit up straight in your chair and raise both shoulders to your ears and release them slowly down again. Repeat this for 30 seconds 2-3 times a day. This will help release any tension you may have in your neck and shoulders.
Stretch 3 – The torso twist
Another simple stretch you can do while at your desk is the torso twist. Start by sitting up straight on your chair and inhaling deeply. As you exhale, slowly turn your body to the left and hold on to either the back of your chair or the arms. Use your grip on the chair to help twist your torso as far as you can, keeping your eye line level. Hold the stretch for 30 secs, slowly release and repeat on the opposite side. This will help contribute to a relaxed and pain free upper body.
Stretch 4 – The leg extension
Get your abs and legs working while sitting anywhere. All you need to do is hold on to the seat of your chair for balance. With ankles touching, slowly raise your legs in front of you so they are parallel to the floor. Hold for 3 seconds and then slowly lower, repeating this 10 times. This stretch will aid in strengthening core muscles and keep you from feeling too fidgety.
Stretch 5 – The bridge
The last stretch might be one to save for home – unless your colleagues are very free spirited. The bridge is a great stretch to relieve any aches and pains in your neck and lower back. Position yourself on all fours, hands shoulder width apart and knees in line with your hips. Slowly activate your core, pulling it in and curving the spine outwards, stretching out the back and neck. Release the stretch and then arch your back whilst looking at the ceiling. Hold each stretch for 10 seconds and repeat 3 times.
Sally Symonds, creator of “Love Your Weight Loss” comments, “Regular stretching has many benefits to the body. Stretching is a great way to help you feel more energized – even if you don’t do any more intense form of exercise that day. A lot of sore lower backs (especially those caused by sitting too much) and tight shoulders, necks and upper backs (think people who spend too much time at a computer) can all be prevented, alleviated and cured by stretching.”
In some cases you may need to approach stretching with caution. Not everyone will benefit from the same stretches or be able to accomplish them as easily as others. Make sure you listen to your body and don’t push yourself too far, focusing on key areas that need stretching. If you are aware that certain muscles are tighter than others, remember to focus on them.
Achieving tangible results to your well-being doesn’t require an overhaul of your day-to-day routine. Simple steps like these, though small, can help make a measurable difference to your body’s movements and overall wellbeing.
About the Author
Rachel is a content writer based in London. With a keen interest in beauty and health.
Do you have any favourite stretch? Mine is the rag doll where you simply stand with feet approximately shoulder-width apart, pull your belly button in by engaging your core and bend over with your arms dangling toward the floor.