Think stretching isn’t enough to make up for a full-body workout? Most of the time, it isn’t. However, it may be your best bet if it becomes impossible for you to exercise. Those who can’t work out for long periods of time due to injury or illness can still benefit from stretching in place of a regular workout.
A study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation looked at the effects of stretching in men who rarely exercised. Researchers were interested in their physical reactions to doing different static stretching exercises. Static stretching just means you stay in one place, perform a specific stretch and hold it for 30 seconds. Basic stretches like standing on one leg and bending the other backward are examples of static stretches.
Researchers looked at how well the men’s arteries functioned before and after doing the assigned stretches. Many benefited slightly from these exercises, but were not followed long-term. This could mean stretching for long periods of time while unable to train could keep you healthy, even if regular fitness training weren’t an option.
MP’s Take: If for whatever reason you have to stop training, that doesn’t mean you have to quit completely. The longer you go without physical activity, the harder it is to get back into it. When you’re already not feeling 100 percent, knowing you might be losing months’ worth of training progress can really get you down. If you can’t train at all, you can at least stretch to keep your heart in good shape. It’s not quite the same. But just think of how much easier it will be to get back in shape if your heart is already conditioned for it. It’ll still be an adjustment – but in the meantime, every little stretch counts.