Whatever kind of day you’re facing, stretching first thing — ideally when you’re still in bed — is a great way to prepare both mentally and physically.
The holidays have a way of throwing even the most dedicated health enthusiast off their game. Not this year! All month long, follow along as SilverSneakers LIVE trainer Shannon Thigpen unwraps our best tips for staying healthy, happy, and, yes, even calm during this busy time of year. Check in here and on our Facebook page for new activities to try. Here’s to your healthiest, happiest holiday season ever!
Don’t think of stretching as something you do only before or after exercise. “Stretching is exercise,” says SilverSneakers LIVE trainer Shannon Thigpen. “And it’s something I encourage you to do every day — even when you’re still in your pajamas!”
Here’s why: Stretching helps keep your muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA). It increases blood flow to your joints, which can help prevent and ease stiffness, reports the Arthritis Foundation.
“And it allows your body to move more easily during workouts and throughout your day,” Shannon adds. That means it’s a good tool to keep you off the injured list.
Regular stretching may even help reduce chronic pain, according to a 2019 study in Clinical Rehabilitation. Researchers divided women with fibromyalgia into two groups. One group biked three times a week. The other added a stretching program one day each week on top of the biking.
After four months, the stretching group reported significant improvements in sleep quality and pain compared with the bike-only group.
“Plus, stretching just feels really good!” adds Shannon. In fact, the NIA says a physical activities like stretching can help lift your mood and reduce stress.
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Try This Morning Stretch Routine
Shannon says these easy stretches can be done while you’re still in bed or on the floor — wherever you’re most comfortable.
As you do each move, remember that stretching shouldn’t be painful. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends stretching just to the point of feeling tightness or slight discomfort.
For the most benefits, hold each stretch for about 30 seconds, says Shannon. And practice these or your other favorite stretches every day.
As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition (including osteoporosis), balance issues, or injuries, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.
Bonus Challenge: Take a SilverSneakers LIVE Gentle Stretch (Express) Class!
Move your body through a series of seated stretches to increase mobility and range of motion in just 15 minutes. Check your eligibility, view the schedule, and RSVP here.
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