There are many health benefits of physical activity: you can strengthen your muscles and bones, improve your mood, reduce your risk of certain diseases, and even alleviate pain by increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation. According to the CDC, you don’t need to engage in strenuous exercise to enjoy these benefits, either. The CDC also recommends starting slowly, and we can help you get started. You can gain flexibility and relieve pain with this 30 minute stretch routine.
Start by getting comfortable, either standing up or sitting on a mat or a chair. Looking straight ahead, slowly tilt your head to the right and stretch the left side of your neck. For a deeper stretch, drop your left shoulder. When you feel you have gotten a good stretch on the left, slowly bring your head over to the left side and, if you feel comfortable doing so, drop your right shoulder to allow a deeper stretch. Next, bring your head back to the center and then lower your chin slowly to your chest. From there, look straight up as high as you can. Feel free to repeat these stretches if your neck muscles are especially tense or tight.
Stretch your left arm out straight and bring it across your body to the right. Use your right arm to hold your left arm against your body and deepen the stretch of your upper arm. Next, bring your left arm up above your head, bend your elbow, and reach down your back. You can use your right hand to pull gently on your elbow to deepen that stretch. Finally, stretch your left arm out straight in front of you. Let your left hand hang down with your fingers pointing to the ground and lightly press on the back of your hand to stretch the muscles in your forearms, then tilt your left hand up so your fingers are to the sky and lightly pull your fingers back with your right hand. When you’re ready, repeat these stretches with your right arm.
If you chose to stand for the previous stretches, take a seated position now. If you’re in a chair, cross your right leg over your left. If you’re on a mat, stretch your left leg out straight in front of you and cross your right leg over it. Brace your left hand against the outside of your right knee, reach behind your back with your right hand, and slowly twist to the right. Then come back to center, switch the position of your legs and then twist to the left. Next, stretch your hands up over your head and lean to the right to stretch your left side. Return to center and then lean to the left to stretch your right side.
From a standing position, bend forward at the waist and reach your fingers toward the floor. Don’t worry if you can’t touch your toes! Let your head hang down, let your arms dangle, stretch only as far as feels good to you. Rise up slowly. Next, stand beside a sturdy wall that you can lean against and raise your right foot behind you. Hold your right foot in your right hand and gently pull it in close to the back of your leg to stretch your quadricep muscles. When you’re ready, switch to your left leg and do the same thing. If you wish to stretch the insides of your legs as well, you can return to a seated position, place the bottoms of your feet together, and lightly press down on the insides of your knees.
When beginning any new kind of physical activity, always move slowly and listen to your body. You should also consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise or fitness routine.