A study at the University of Illinois found that when elderly people followed a stretching programme they experienced a boost in their self-esteem. “Stretching releases dopamine which helps you feel happier and more positive about the world,” says Dr Simon Floreani, chiropractor and Ambassador for Allied Health and Prevention.
Women who suffer from PMS symptoms, such as pain, emotional imbalance and bloating, have reported benefits from performing yoga stretches. It’s not known why, but according to the researcher Dr Ratna Sharma, after the yoga course, sufferers had higher levels of allopregnanolone, a natural antidepressant, in their bodies.
“Stretching loosens the muscles and tendons, which relieves muscle fatigue,” says Floreani. “As we get older we become less flexible, as we spend so long at a desk or on the couch. By stretching, we’re warming up those sleepy areas of our body and reminding them it’s time to get moving.” The best news? The longer you exercise the more kilojoules you’ll burn.
“When muscles stay still the blood pools in the muscles, which makes you feel tired and sluggish,” says Floreani. “As soon as you move you nourish the muscles and improve your concentration levels as your brain gets some blood flow.” By moving away from your desk every twenty minutes or so is enough to help relieve fatigue.
Good news if you’re postmenopausal. A regular morning routine of stretching and light exercise has been proven to give you a good night’s sleep, compared to women who do no exercise or exercise in the evening.
“Stretching reminds your brain the correct length your muscles are meant to be at when you’re exercising,” says Floreani. “After a ten-minute stretching before working out, you’ll have better coordination and it’ll be less likely for your muscles to rip and tear.”
Lie on your back, bring your right knee to your chest and hug the knee for five seconds. Repeat on the left side. Sitting at your desk and feeling fatigued? Roll your shoulders backwards for ten rolls.
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