You may wonder why yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi classes have become so popular in recent years. Some may not even consider these classes “real exercises”. Although these are not aerobic workouts, the stretching involved in these exercises is extremely good for your body as well as your mind. One of the best things about them is that they can be enjoyed at any age and when modified, for those with various physical restrictions.
As we get older, our muscles begin to tighten and get shorter, which affects overall flexibility. This makes you more susceptible to muscle, joint and tendon injuries. It also means there are muscles that you almost stop using.
Stretching is a great way to prepare our muscles for a vigorous workout, like a game of tennis or a run. It’s also is a great way to exercise different muscles for everyday living.
Benefits of Stretching
- Flexibility – Stretching can help improve flexibility because it encourages your joints to move through a full range of motion. Better flexibility may improve your ability to do physical activities (that’s why athletes stretch before they exercise) as well as decrease your risk of injuries.
- Circulation – Stretching increases blood flow to the muscles and the supply of nutrients to muscles and cartilage. This reduces muscle soreness after working out, generally keeps your muscles healthier, and gives you more energy.
- Balance – Stretching helps increase the range of motion in our joints, which gives us a better sense of balance. This makes us more agile as athletes, and in older age, prevents injuries due to falls.
- Stress Buster – Stretching lowers stress, a much-needed benefit in today’s busy world. Gentle stretching exercises relax tense muscles associated with stress. Stretching also has the same endorphin-boosting effects as any exercise, which improves your overall mood.