Simple Exercises to Make You Limber
No matter what your fitness level, stretching is a valuable activity to add to your
daily workout routine.
Although stretching is simple to do, it's often the most ignored part of people's
fitness regimens, according to the American Council on Exercise. Stretching can reduce
your risk for injury and help you become more limber, regardless of your age and physical
Stretching can improve your circulation and posture because it helps increase your
range of motion, strength, coordination, and flexibility.
Regular stretching reduces muscle tension and promotes freer movement. It should be
comfortable and relaxing. You should never stretch to the point of pain. When you
stretch, work at your own pace and within your own limits.
As with any other fitness program, be sure to check with your health care provider
before beginning a stretching routine. This is especially important if you have arthritis,
joint dysfunction, or back problems. Stretching can be helpful to people with these
conditions. But some exercises may overstress the joints. Here are some basic things
If you can't do endurance or strength exercises for some reason, and stretching
exercises are the only kind you are able to do, do them at least 3 times a week,
for at least 20 minutes each session.
The National Institute on Aging gives the following safety recommendations:
Always warm up before stretching exercises. (You can do them after endurance
or strength exercises or, if you are doing only stretching exercises on a
particular day, do a little bit of easy walking and arm-pumping first). Stretching
your muscles before they are warmed up may result in injury.
You can do the following stretches while sitting at your desk or standing in your
work area. Doing them a few times a day will help release the muscle tension in your
hands, arms, shoulders, and back.
Do each stretch to the point of light tightness. Move your body slowly and gently.
Breathe deeply and regularly. Exhale as you bend into a stretch. Breathe in a controlled,
rhythmic manner while you're in the stretch.
Reach your arms out in front of you and rotate your wrists 10 times in a clockwise
direction, then 10 times counterclockwise.
Arms and hands
Clasp your hands together in front of your chest at shoulder height. Extend your arms
forward until you feel a stretch in your upper back, shoulders, arms, and hands. Hold
for 15 seconds and relax. Repeat for 30 seconds.
Arms and shoulders
Lift 1 arm in front of you as if to grab something. Then use the other arm to pull
the outstretched arm gently across the chest so that the muscles are stretched. Hold
for 15 seconds and relax. Repeat for another 15 seconds to 30 seconds. Repeat, using
your left arm.
Neck and shoulders
Sit tall in a chair. Let your right arm down and grasp the seat. Then try to tip the
head toward the left side. Holding onto the seat keeps your shoulders level during
the stretch. Hold for 15 seconds and relax. Repeat for another 15 seconds to 30 seconds.
Repeat, using your left arm.
Bring your arms behind your back and link your fingers with your palms facing inward.
Straighten your arms and lift them up until you feel a stretch in your arms, shoulders,
and chest. Hold for 15 seconds and relax. Repeat the stretch for another 15 seconds
to 30 seconds.
Sit tall in your chair and try to turn to grab the back of the chair while keeping
your feet flat on the floor. Hold for 15 seconds and relax. Repeat the stretch turning
to the other side.
Cross 1 ankle onto the opposite knee and sit tall. Then, lean forward from your hips,
keeping your chest upright. This stretches the outer hip, which is the reason for
many back problems. Hold for 15 seconds and relax. Repeat using the other leg.