Stretch Into Happiness

Stretch Into Happiness
Stretch Into Happiness

I wake up in the morning, I do a little stretching exercise, pick up the horn and play.

-Herb Alpert

Stretching the muscles:

  • Can inspire you to be more creative
  • Helps eliminate stress and tension
  • Reduces fatigue, anger and fear
  • Positively affects the neurological system
  • Lessens depression and pain
  • Can result in a happier you

Everyone feels tension and stress from time to time. This can cause the muscles to contract, becoming tense. By stretching for a short amount of time (10-15 minutes) each day, you can help calm your own mind, providing a mental break that gives your body the opportunity to recharge.

Stretching also increases the production of endorphins in the brain, that can, in turn, elevate your mood and lessen depression and pain.

Stretching the muscles not only helps get the creative juices flowing, it can also make you feel happier. Scientific studies suggest that stretching can help substantially reduce fatigue, anger and fear, which can also lead to a higher level of happiness. Stretching positively affects not only the body’s muscle system but also the neurological or brain system as well.

Follow these tips to have a more successful stretching experience:

Stretch for at Least 10 Minutes Each Day

By spending a minimum of 10 minutes stretching every day, the mind can experience a mental break that will result in a calmer, happier, more creative you.

Even if you don’t have time for a big workout, stretching in the morning and night really changes your body and your mind.

-Erin Heatherton

Start the Stretch With the Muscles That Need Help the Most

Tight muscles are tense muscles. Rather than starting with stretches for the entire body, begin stretching those areas of the body that are the most tense. Focus on the areas that are the tightest, and spend more time on those before stretching the rest of the body.

Start Slowly and Stretch with Movement

The gentle stretching movements of yoga, tai chi, pilates can increase flexibility with each stretch. Start by doing the stretch at a lower intensity and more slowly to enable your muscles to get used to it. Then, as your muscles get used to the motion, gradually increase the speed and intensity of the movement.

Skip the Stretch Prior to Working Out

The muscles should be warm before stretching, to help prevent strains and tears. Prior to stretching, warm them up with light walking or jogging. If you do not have time for this step, save the stretch for after the workout while the muscles are still warm.

Specific Stretches for the Entire Body

Stretches can be done virtually anywhere, any time that you feel the need to do them. To avoid injury, it is important to either warm the muscles first, or to ease into the stretches gradually. Stretching is not a competition. Everyone has different levels of tolerance. Be sure to stop or lighten the intensity of the stretch if any pain is experienced.

Buzz Feed has come up with an illustrated list of great stretches recommended by personal trainer, Mary Jane Detroyer, MS, RD, CDN. The stretches address the abs, hip flexors, lower and upper back, the biceps, triceps, glutes, groin, inner thighs, hamstrings and quads/ Moving illustrations are included to make sure you do the stretches correctly.

Soon after establishing a regular routine of stretching, one can expect:

  • A greater range of motion and increased muscle flexibility
  • Better circulation
  • Improved posture
  • Relief from stress and tension
  • Reduction in lower back pain

Best of all, you can expect to feel happier.