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26 Jun 2015

Start Your Day with a Stretch

Every morning when you wake up, you are likely to reach your arms out and arch your back with a stretch. This instinctual movement helps you to wake up properly, by warming up your muscles and kick-starting your senses. If this simple automatic stretch can make you feel that good, imagine the benefits you can experience by performing a stretching routine every morning. Starting your day with a stretch is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health, helping you to connect with your body and your mind before you even leave the house.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, we spend more than half of our waking hours sitting down. Whether in the car, at work, or in front of the TV at home, excessive sitting increases the likelihood of poor posture and compromised health. While much of this sedentary time is impossible to avoid, the least we can do is spend some time preparing our bodies through stretches and gentle exercises in the morning.

Flexibility plays an important role in health and well-being, with this crucial element of fitness often overlooked in favour of strength and endurance. Maintaining flexibility helps protect muscles and joints, reduce physical stress, and relax the mind, with stretching also helping to align the body and connect the body and mind together through breathing and movement. Yoga is little more than a combination of stretching and breathing exercises, with morning yoga a great way to start the day.

According to the American Council on Exercise, morning stretches are a great way to eliminate aches and pains in the muscles and joints. Morning aches are a result of increased fluid accumulating in the joints and spinal discs overnight, with this painful condition affecting millions of people every day. While these aches and pains can develop at any time of the day or night, they are more likely to occur in the morning after the body has been rested and horizontal for a long period of time. Gentle stretches to slowly warm up the body are a great way to alleviate joint pain and body discomfort.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, stretching can also be a useful way to increase blood flow to the body and brain. Healthy blood flow is especially crucial in the morning, with the body re-adjusting after being asleep for several hours. Adequate blood flow increases concentration and sharpens the senses, with proper circulation helping you to move and function better throughout the day.

While stretching is a great way to relieve tension, it's always a good idea to take it easy in the delicate morning hours. Slow and careful stretches allow your body to warm up without risk of injury, and by holding your stretches for 30 seconds, you give your muscles time to lengthen and relax naturally. Stretching in the morning is a great way to start the day, helping you to relieve tension, reduce pain, increase blood flow, and kick-start the day with a smile on your face.