Stretching may raise cardiovascular fitness according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

The study results offer hope to those who, because of health problems, find it painful to exercise. Everyone needs physical activity, but morbid obesity can make some forms of movement uncomfortable.

The WeightWise exercise physiologists will design a program that’s right for you. Whether you come to us for weight loss surgery or our non-surgical metabolic program, exercise is essential to your success. We encourage everyone to include stretching in their exercise routine.

Does Stretching Improve Fitness?

In the study, young men improved the function of their arteries with a single session of full-body stretching. The men performed static stretches for about 40 minutes. Static stretches are those that don’t involve movement.

The benefits of the exercise lasted for about an hour after the activity. Researchers measured the men’s arterial stiffness before and after stretching. Artery stiffness is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

The researchers speculate that regular stretching could have lasting cardiovascular health benefits. You can read more about the study here.

Why You Should Stretch

Woman stretches before going on a run

Stretching is a part of a balanced workout routine. It improves flexibility, posture and may help prevent some injuries. Plus, these types of exercises are relaxing and feel good. When you take the time to relax each day, you’ll have a better handle on your stress levels.

We recommend stretching in conjunction with other workouts. If you’re recovering from weight loss surgery, you’ll get up and walk soon after your procedure. When we clear you for exercise, you can start on a more structured program.

Walking is an excellent form of exercise, but even this gentle workout hurts if you have joint pain. Those who have arthritis or other chronic health problems may be able to stretch when other types of exercise are too difficult. It’s easy to stretch at home, and you don’t need any special equipment.

Tips for Stretching

Stretching should never hurt. If you force a movement, you risk injury. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Warmup. Stretch after a workout. If you’re only stretching, start with small motions and hold the pose for 10 seconds.
  • Hold the pose. In the study, the men held a position for 30 seconds. Hold a stretch for at least 10 to 30 seconds.
  • Start slow. As with any new activity, start slowly and increase gradually.

Learn some great lower-body stretches in our previous post.

We offer long-term support for our patients. Learn more by attending one of our informational seminars.