Why You Should Stretch Throughout the Day
May 23, 2022
As human beings, we’re designed for movement. But as a result of our modern lives, many of us spend a lot of time sitting. In fact, one study found that one in four people sit for more than eight hours every day.
That’s not good news because the more sitting we do, the worse our health becomes. Research suggests too much sitting may increase your risk of dying from cancer, impact your memory, and even potentially hasten the aging process. “A workout at the end of the day isn’t going to do the trick,” says Hope Elliott, a certified yoga instructor and well-being educator. “We need continuous movement throughout the day.”
The good news: Simply standing up to shake and loosen out your body every so often can go a long way. These stretches help you do just that. They also “increase energy and help to quiet the mind,” Elliott says.
Do one stretch each hour. Have more time? Do all five. Whatever moves you choose, be sure to hold each pose for three to seven breaths.
This pose, which is an active forward fold, strengthens the wrists and lower back while stretching the hamstrings.
Try it: Start in a high plank (or push-up position) with feet hip-width apart and wrists stacked under shoulders. Shift weight back, bringing your butt up so your body forms a triangle. Pull shoulders down and back, keep head between arms, and gaze upon lower legs. Your heels should either touch or hover over ground.
Supported Figure 4
This move stretches the hips and lower back as well as strengthens the muscles in your thighs.
Try it: Stand with feet hip-width apart with hands on the back of a chair or couch. Cross your left ankle over your right knee. Bend your right knee, bringing your thighs as parallel to the floor as possible. Hold, then switch sides and repeat.
This pose stretches your entire side, including your latimus dorsi muscles, the large V-shaped muscles that connect your arms to your spine—but also those triceps and obliques.
Try it: Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart with hips square and left hand on your hip. Lift right arm overhead; palm faces inward. At the same time, lean toward your left side, reaching your left arm over; hold. Switch sides and repeat.
This move stretches the chest and opens the heart.
Try it: Start seated with shoulders down, chest up, and fingers interlocked behind head. Gently squeeze your shoulder blades together as you push your head and elbows back; keep chin tucked. Hold, and then release.
Neck Stretch & Release
This pose stretches the traps and shoulders. It’s especially important for those who sit in front of a computer.
Try it: Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart. Place your left hand on the top of your head and drop your left ear to your left shoulder, pressing down on your head with your left hand for a deeper stretch. Hold; switch sides and repeat.
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