By David Godfrey – Mindset and Performance Coach
Here are the top 10 health benefits of stretching:
Encourages an optimistic outlook – A buildup of stress causes your muscles to contract, making you feel tense and uneasy. This tension can lead to having a negative impact on mind as well as your body. Stretching exercises have powerful stress-busting abilities. Stretching soon after waking up can help jump-start the mind and body. Stretching loosens tight muscles which helps your muscles both relax and increase blood flow. It also encourages the release of endorphins, providing a sense of tranquility and euphoria. Stretching directly before bed will even give you a more comfortable sleeping experience.
Fortifies posture – Stretching helps ensure correct posture by lengthening tight muscles that pull areas of the body away from their intended position and keeping your muscles loose. Stretching the muscles of the lower back, chest and shoulders can help keep the spine in better alignment and improve overall posture by relieving aches and pains. With reduced pain, there is a reduced desire to hunch or slouch.
Enables flexibility – The most established and obvious benefit of stretching is improving flexibility and range of motion. An effective flexibility training program can improve your physical performance and help reduce your risk of injury. By improving your range of motion, your body requires less energy to make the same movements and you also will have more flexible joints thus lessening the likelihood of injuries acquired during workouts or during daily activities.
Increase stamina – Stretching loosens your muscles and tendons which relieves muscle fatigue and increases blood flow. The longer you exercise the more energy you be burn, typically causing one to grow fatigued. With stretching, you can delay the onset of muscle fatigue by ensuring oxygen is efficiently flowing through your blood, thereby increasing your endurance.
Decreases risk of injury – it will help to supply a greater nutrient supply to muscles, thereby reducing muscle soreness and helping to speed recovery from muscle and joint injuries.
Improve energy levels – Sometimes you may have trouble staying awake during your long, dragging day. If you’re feeling this way then it might help to get out of your seat and do a few good stretches for a boost of energy, helping your mind and body be more alert. Muscles tighten when we get tired and that makes us feel even more lethargic, so feel free to stand up and do some stretches. It will help you to quickly and efficiently revitalize your energy levels.
Promotes blood circulation – it increases blood flow to the muscles. Not only will this help reduce post-workout soreness and shorten recovery time, but it will improve overall health. Greater blood circulation helps promote cell growth and organ function. The heart rate will also lower since it doesn’t have to work as hard and blood pressure will become more even and consistent.
Improve athletic performance – If your muscles are already contracted because you haven’t stretched, then they will be less effective during exercise. Regular stretching will relax all of your muscles and therefore enable them to be more available during exercise.
Reduced soreness – Stretching before and after a workout gives your muscles time to relax. Increases in blood flow increase nutrient supply to the muscles and relieve soreness in the muscles after a workout.
Reduces cholesterol – Paired with a healthy diet, engaging in prolonged stretching exercises can help reduce cholesterol in the body. This could prevent and even reverse the hardening of arteries, helping one avoid heart diseases.
Move TOWARDS your outcomes, instead of away from your fears, frustrations and anxieties.
“Life is not a test to see how much you can do, accomplish, make, workout, be thin or how young you can stay.
In fact, there are no tests in life, only opportunities to grow.
If you see everything as a test to how well you can do, you are getting in the way of your own potential. If you look at everything as a test, then you focus only on passing the test (making the money, getting the promotion, losing the weight, etc.) instead of maximizing your growth THROUGH the experience.
Overtime, the person who is simply focused on maximizing what they can learn and how they can grow will become much greater than the person who sees life as one continual test to prove themselves.
Even tests in school are not tests. Nothing is a test its only an illusion. Everything is an opportunity to learn and grow.”
-Joshua Medcalf “Chop Wood Carry Water”
Have you heard someone mention “complex carbs”, and you wondered what they were talking about? Basically, carbohydrates are either simple or complex. At first glance, you may think that simple carbohydrates are better for your body. They are broken down simply, so doesn’t it make sense that these would be healthy for you? Actually, the opposite is true.
The Difference Between Complex (Good) and Simple (Bad) Carbohydrates
Complex and simple carbohydrates very differ in how they are absorbed into your body. They are also digested differently. Think of simple carbohydrates as simple sugars. Simple carbohydrates are broken down quickly, and deliver no nutrition, just energy. Complex carbohydrates deliver lots of nutrients and minerals, as well as energy.
Complex carbohydrates have longer molecular chains. So it takes your body a long time to break them down and absorb them. This leads to an even distribution of energy over a longer period of time, and a much longer feeling of fullness. Simple carbohydrates, like those delivered by refined sugar, enter your bloodstream immediately. They are processed quickly, have little nutritional value, and lead to fat storage, short spikes in energy and an energy crash.
Why Your Body Needs Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates are important for a few reasons. As mentioned above, they are nutrient and mineral rich. They have all of the vitamins, phytonutrients and healthy, natural goodness your body needs to function properly.
They are usually also very high in dietary fiber. Fiber keeps your digestive system working properly, and helps you regulate a naturally healthy body weight. Complex carbs are energy rich, and deliver that energy consistently over a long period of time.
“Good” carbs promote proper sleep, boosted brain function and a healthy nervous system. In many cases, they are also low in calories, as opposed to unhealthy simple carbohydrates. Simply put, complex carbohydrates deliver much-needed benefits that promote inner and outer overall health.
Some Examples of Complex Carbohydrates
The following list includes some healthy complex carbohydrates you definitely should be eating more of
- Brown rice
- Soy Milk
Simple Carbohydrates to Avoid
Avoid or limit the following simple carbs. Your health and waistline will thank you.
- ‘Free Sugars’ are sugars that are removed from their original source and added to foods as a sweetener or as a preservative.
- White carbohydrates – rice, bread, pasta
- Potatoes – technically a complex carbohydrate, they are treated like simple carbs in your body
- Desserts, pastries
- Artificial syrups
- Candy and cookies
- Soda and energy drinks