Figure 4

Stretch Your Way to Better Health

Monday, July 19, 2021 by Sandy Reimer

Want to feel good instantly? Stretch!   

Stretching is an important component of exercise – it brings blood flow to muscles, joints and ligaments and helps with range of motion and flexibility. 

Many of us are spending hours sitting every day, which has negative effects on the body, especially on the hip structure. Lots of people are also reporting increased feelings of anxiety and depression. Self-care is important for good physical and mental health, and a daily stretching routine can help promote optimal wellness.  

Stretching activates the parasympathetic nervous system and promotes relaxation and calmness. Research finds stretching will also help you sleep better. 

Dynamic stretching helps promote gains in flexibility and prepares you for sport or activity. Dynamic stretching is energizing and perfect to do throughout the day after you’ve been sitting for extended periods of time.  

Try these: 

  • Yes, No, Maybe – nod your head, turn it side to side and raise and lower your shoulders  

  • Leg Swings – stand beside a chair with one hand on it for balance, gently swing your outside leg forward and back 4 times, change directions and swing the other leg. Then face the chair with both hands on it, swing one leg side to side 4 times, repeat with the other leg 

Static stretching is the most common and a great way to unwind. Here you take a muscle to a maximal point and hold for 30 seconds (4-5 breaths). Allow the muscle to relax and lengthen while breathing slowly. Static stretching is especially great before bedtime.    

Try this: 

  • Figure 4 - lay on your back, cross your right ankle over your left knee. Slowly bring your left knee towards your chest. Hold your thigh and gently pull your leg closer until you feel the stretch in your right glute and hip. Hold, release and repeat with the other leg. 

When taking time to stretch, focus on your breath to connect to and listen to your body. Keep in mind that the body moves in three planes of motion. Flex and extend, move limbs to the side and rotate too!  

To join the YWCA Health + Fitness Centre for stretching and other fitness classes, contact | 604 895 5777.