As a software developer, I spend a ton of time sitting. I'd estimate that I spend on average eight to ten hours a day sitting. Sitting that much has been proven to be terrible for health. In order to attack the effects of sitting too much, this year I've started to get up and stretch every time I think about it. This usually only happens a couple of times an hour but it beats staying in my chair for a couple of hours without getting up. In addition to that, I try to stretching any other time I can. All this stretching and researching the topic a little bit, has led me to believe that in terms of time to value return on investment, there is no better activity than stretching.
Stretching has a number of important health benefits from the body to the mind. For the body stretching allows for better movement by working muscles in the right way. As we age, muscles get tighter leading to a smaller range of motion. Stretching can help to minimize the tightness mitigating some of the effects of aging on the muscles. For the mind, stretching has been shown to help people relax and be a good calming technique. Think about exercises like yoga and pilates are good for both the body and mind, they're built around stretching.
For something that takes so little time and effort to be so effective makes it a no brainer to stretch. This winter I read an article about the Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jerad Weaver. Weaver, who has been a very successful pitcher for a long time, said that not stretching for the first eight years of his career caused his body to deteriorate as he aged. Now Weaver is making every effort to gain the flexibility back and he's putting together a decent, year in his age 33 season. Had Weaver been stretching before, his career may have taken a different path post-30. I'm no professional athlete (obviously), but if I can help myself through stretching I might as well.
As far as benefits go, I haven't yet experienced anything too profound. My body feels fresher and I haven't gotten hurt any. Before I started stretching a lot, the days after I'd ran there would be a little lingering tightness in my legs. Now my legs feel great whether I run or not. That's alone would make it worthwhile to me. The benefit that really has me hooked is the long term potential. If stretching now can lead to enhanced flexibility and mobility in the future I'm going to do it and never look back. I can't find a reason not to.
Published on 4/26/2016 9:33:26 PM