Stretching is Good for Your Heart
We’ve all skimped on our post-workout stretches despite knowing how beneficial they are for avoiding injury. You’ve probably heard your trainer, doctor or coach stress how this practice not only helps restore your body, posture and muscles, but it also reduces post-workout recovery time, stiffness and soreness. But did you know stretching is also a terrific way to lower your blood pressure?
According to a new study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, stretching for 30 minutes, five days a week is more effective at fighting hypertension (high blood pressure) than taking a brisk walk for the same amount of time. But don’t trade stretching for walking. Combining a brisk 30-minute walk with 30 minutes of post-walk stretching five days a week might be the best aerobic combination for overall cardiovascular health.
Boost heart health with these stretching techniques
Whether your walking, weight training, swimming or cycling, these easy-to-follow post-workout stretches can help loosen limbs, de-stress and improve heart health:
- Standing hamstring stretch
This stretch is especially useful for those who sit for prolonged periods and are therefore more likely to have tight hamstrings. Stand with your feet beneath your hips and keep your knees bent slightly. Bend forward at the waist and lower your head toward your toes. Place your hands behind your legs and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
- Lunge with a spinal twist
Start by taking one big step forward with your right leg and dropping your left knee toward the floor while keeping your left leg straight. Next, support your weight with your left hand, rotate your upper body and extend your right arm toward the ceiling. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg. Repeat this sequence 5 times.
- Frog stretch
Position your hands and knees on the floor then slowly slide your knees outward while lowering your pelvis toward the floor. Keep your feet together and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
- Quad stretch
Stand with your feet together. Use your right hand to lift your right leg, bent at the knee, toward your bottom. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the left leg. Repeat this sequence 5 times.