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Stretching Is Not Just a Warm-Up

By Paul Rothbart

Anyone who has followed an exercise regimen knows the drill. Stretch before you do anything strenuous to warm up the muscles. But stretching on its own is an exercise with many benefits. It is common knowledge that stretching keeps muscles limber and helps to prevent sprains and tears, but here are some other ways that stretching can improve overall health.

Boost Your Midday Energy Levels

Hitting a wall around 3 p.m.? While most people grab a cup of joe or an energy drink, there is a better way that is faster than running to your local coffee shop. That's right. Spending even a few minutes stretching can provide the pep needed to finish the day strong. Stretches increase blood flow throughout the body and even to the brain. A sensation of being freshly awakened, energized and ready to take on any task is often the result. Find 5 minutes in the middle of the afternoon or whenever you feel lethargic.

Stay On Your Feet

Though not common, tripping and falling can have severe consequences. Painful injuries that prevent working and require time to heal are certainly things to avoid. Studies have shown that stretching regularly improves fine muscle coordination. This can enhance balance. Even if it prevents just one fall, regular stretching will have been worth the effort. Keep your feet planted solidly on the floor. 

Lower Your Blood Sugar

Regular exercise is one of the better ways to maintain healthy glucose levels. But you don't have to hit the weight room or track to get this benefit. In a study conducted in 2011, pre-diabetics who stretched had lower blood sugar levels after drinking a sugary beverage than those who didn't. Safe blood sugar levels are vital to good health, especially for those with type 2 or who have pre diabetes. 

Less Stress

Stress is a part of most occupations and daily chores. It's unavoidable. But it can be reduced and managed. Gentle stretching loosens tight muscles. The neck, shoulders, and back tend to tense up when the going gets tough. Stretches will relieve the tension and enable the mind and body to work at their best. Go easy if you feel especially tight. 

Regular exercise is necessary for optimum health. While cardio and strength training are excellent choices, don't forget the benefits of stretching. A brief routine done once or twice a day will minimize stress, risk of injury and can even help your blood sugar. Try playing a little music while you stretch. Who says exercise can't be fun?

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Houston, Tex.

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