Getting into the habit of doing anything on a regular basis isn't always easy. This is probably why many people think about starting an exercise program but never really get to the stage where they take action. However, starting a stretch routine may be a little easier. There are many benefits to a daily stretching routine. In fact, many of the benefits from stretching are similar to the benefits of regular walking, strength training, or a cardiovascular routine.
Better circulation and blood flow are two benefits to stretching. Additionally, stretching can result in lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and even a lower heart rate. A daily stretching routine can provide greater flexibility and ease of movement. Movements like getting in and out of the car, going up and down stairs, loading and unloading the washing machine or the dishwasher, and even getting out of bed in the morning. Stretching on a daily basis can help improve your posture by alleviating tight muscles in the lower back and upper shoulder blade area. It's even been known to help reduce stress and improve breathing control. There is also quite a bit of research that shows how a flexibility program or a daily stretch routine can help reduce the risk of injuries and improve balance.
A daily stretching routine can also make you happier. When we stretch and move, we have a chemical reaction from our brain and body called the dopamine effect. This effect occurs even with something as simple as a daily stretching routine.
According to the book “Atomic Habits”, changing habits can actually be easy if you understand the process. All habits are built on the four-step process of a cue, crave, response, and reward. For example, you make a cue that you are tired in the morning and then crave a cup of coffee, to respond to the cue and the reward becomes a cup of coffee. In other words, there is a process to eliminate bad habits and instill good habits.
One approach is to “marry” a habit that is already in place with a habit that you'd like to start. Many of us get out of bed in the morning and head right to the bathroom, brush and floss our teeth, wash our face and then head to the kitchen for a drink of water or caffeinated beverage. It seems that we need something to jumpstart our body and caffeine does the trick. However, what if instead of getting right out of bed and heading to the bathroom you just laid in bed for a few extra minutes in those few minutes perform 5 to 6 different stretches? Another way to start a daily stretch routine could be to “marry” a brief seated stretch routine to the moment you finish the first sip of coffee in the morning.
Let’s Start A Daily Stretch Routine
Take a quick moment to write down all of the actions you did within the first 30 minutes of the morning. Perform this exercise for a few days to see what happens on a regular basis. Then, select one of the habits you are already doing and marry it with a daily stretch routine. In no time, you'll be feeling better, moving more and performing more efficiently. It's not that big of a stretch!
Andrea Metcalf is a celebrity fitness expert specializing in functional fitness including flexibility training. With over three decades of experience in the fitness world, a best-selling book, and more than 500 media appearances, she is a trusted fitness and wellness expert.