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5 Stretches You Should Do After Every Walk

These static stretches are perfect for loosening up muscles and joints after a walk—and improving flexibility.

By Michele Stanten

We used to think that it was best to stretch before exercise. Now we know it’s more effective to warm up with dynamic moves that prime the muscles you’ll be using and to perform static stretches—the kind you hold—at the end of a workout.

These five stretches will help you feel better after a walk and improve flexibility. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds. If it’s not comfortable to hold a stretch for a full 30 seconds, hold it for 10 to 15 seconds at a time, and repeat as needed to reach 30 seconds total. As always, remember to move gently and with control.

Stretch #1: Calves

Stand about arm’s length away from a chair, wall, or tree. Extend your left leg straight behind you with your heel on the ground, and bend your right leg in front. With your hands on the support object, lean forward slightly to feel a stretch in your left calf. Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat with right leg straight behind you and left leg bent in front.

Make it easier: If you find yourself bending at the waist, step closer to the chair, wall, or tree.

Stretch #2: Quads

Stand near a chair, wall, or tree. With your right hand on the support object, grasp your left foot with your left hand, and bring your heel toward your buttocks. Keep your left knee pointing down, and you should feel a stretch in the front of your left thigh. Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat with right leg bent.

Make it easier: If you can’t quite reach your foot, loop a towel or an exercise strap around your foot, and grasp that instead.

Stretch #3: Hamstrings

Sit back on your right leg, and extend your left leg in front of you with your toes up and heel on the ground. Place your hands on your right thigh. Gently bend your right knee, and hinge forward slightly at your hips to feel a stretch in the back of your left thigh. Make sure you’re not rounding your back—keep your chest lifted. Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat with right leg extended in front of you.

Make it easier: Do this stretch while seated in a chair.

Stretch 4: Hips and Glutes

Stand near a chair, wall, or tree. Cross your left ankle over your right thigh—be sure it’s on your thigh and not your knee. With a hand on the support object, sit back until you feel a stretch in your left hip and glute. Keep your chest lifted. Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat with right ankle over left thigh.

Make it easier: Do this stretch while seated in a chair.

Stretch #5: Chest and Shoulders

Stand with your feet together. Clasp your hands behind your back, and roll your shoulders back and down, squeezing your shoulder blades. Gently lift your arms up to feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders. Don’t lean forward or excessively arch your back. Hold for 30 seconds, and then relax.

Make it easier: If you can’t quite clasp your hands behind your back, hold on to a towel or strap with each hand.

Note: The exercises in this workout may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. Please consult your physician before beginning a physical activity program to make sure it’s safe for you.

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