Health Break | Published August 25, 2010

Fitness Tip: S – T – R – E – T – C – H

We all know that cardio and weight training are essential to a healthy fitness routine, but people often forget the most important preparation before they even take that first step – stretching.
Why is stretching so important? There is no other activity like stretching that can increase flexibility, mental relaxation and circulation, decrease joint pain and muscle soreness and improve balance, stability, strength, posture and coordination in just a few short minutes every day.
To begin, stretch using slow, intentional – not jerky – movements as part of your warm-up and cool down. Be careful not to overextend joints or muscles. If you want to take stretching to the next level, incorporate yoga into your fitness schedule. This program relies heavily on stretching to improve fitness.
Stretching alone will also provide some benefits. It’s never too late to start. And the best part: It’s free and easy. Be sure to check with your physician before beginning any exercise program, even something as good for you as stretching.