Warm Up Your Winter with Stretching
If you’re here in Canada with us, we’ve got at least another 6 weeks of cold weather to enjoy. While winter can be fun, our bodies take a bit of a beating at this time. Keep reading to find out why it’s so important to stretch, especially during the winter and when you’re over 50 years of age.
When your personal trainer reminds you to stretch, they are definitely doing you a favour! Regular stretching is a vital part of every holistic fitness program as it provides a plethora of physical, mental and emotional benefits. However, a few folks could benefit even more from stretching more often…
The Impact of the Cold on the Body
Cold temperatures makes us tense, tightening our muscles and shortening them. We’re also less active in winter, sitting for longer periods of time to avoid the cold and experiencing the side effects of a lack of sunlight. (Read Goodbye Sun, Goodbye Motivation?)
Between tight muscles, lethargy and inactivity, we in the Northern Hemisphere tend to get stiffer (and possibly more grumpy!) as the season progresses. That is, unless we do something about it. We can combat the negative effects of living in a cold climate and maintain our flexibility by increasing our stretching routine.
The Impact of Aging on the Body
Over a lifetime, the body’s natural shock absorbers (cartilage and fluid in the joints) deteriorate, placing pressure on them and causing pain. Years of poor posture and those who have been very active in their youth (and/or have old injuries) also feel the burn of the wear and tear of life on the body. Let’s not forget we also experience loss of muscle mass and bone density which also contribute to joint pressure.
Unfortunately, when many of us are in pain, we shy away from exercise. Even if it’s the most effective cure for our pain! Through regular weight-bearing exercises, we slow down the aging process by maintaining our muscle mass, bone density and helping relieve joint pressure.
And let’s not forget the title of this article. Regular stretching (outside of the warm-up and cool-down in our workouts) takes the pressure off of the joints, improving flexibility and relieving joint pain.
Warm Your Winter with Stretching
If there’s one way you can survive the cold, it’s with regular stretching. Stretching your body means you’re moving your limbs around and circulating that blood. Cold feet and hands? All you have to do is a few series of stretches. You’re creating your own (internal) heat!
Case of the winter blues? This is a common phenomenon in wintery residents. The solution? Exercise and stretching, which both increase the production of endorphins in the brain. If you need a reminder, endorphins are the neurotranmitters that elevate mood and alleviate both pain and depression.
Read Types of Stretching, the Best & Why for some benefits to stretching and discover the best type for you.
Now that you know the impact of the cold and aging on the body, are you convinced to start stretching more? Stay tuned for an upcoming article with recommendations for stretching goals and regime!