Wellness Challenge #5:
Daily Stretching and Flexibility
Why we chose this challenge
We’re back with another fitness challenge! (see all the past challenges here) This time we are challenging ourselves and you to stretch for AT LEAST 15 minutes a day! If you can do more, that would be even better, but aim to get at least 15 minutes in daily. I recently saw a study that said the average American sits for 13 hours a day and sleeps for 8 hours a day. That’s about 21 hours of sedentary time a day! While that number seems high, I wasn’t very surprised. I sit almost 90% of the time for my day job and I sit even more after and before work as I work on the computer blogging. Over the past year I’ve started experiencing neck, shoulder, arm, hand, and back pain. Bassam has been experiencing hamstring and back pain so severe that it wakes him up most mornings. After seeing a physical therapist, we learned that while we can’t heal our issues completely by stretching, we can improve the symptoms significantly. Here’s why stretching will help. Stretching keeps muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, which in turn helps us to maintain range of motion in our joints. Without flexibility, muscles shorten and become tight. Overtime the muscles can become weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage, which is exactly why Bassam and I are experiencing the issues we are.
Here some ideas to fit in stretching throughout the day:
- Set an alarm to buzz every hour to remind you to get a mini stretch in
- Keep a foam roller by your desk (Since my issues are mainly in my neck, shoulders and upper back, I’ve been laying on the roller with my arms wide open and my knees bent)
- Establish some sort of signal. For example, every time you walk by a certain thing in your house or office, you need to do a stretch. For me, that’s every time I walk past a certain wall in the house. I’m going to do a door jam stretch for my shoulder
- Stretch while you watch TV
- Multitask! For example do a calf stretch off the stairs while you brush your teeth
Tips to get the most out of this challenge
- Track your progress! Pick one or a few stretches and see how far you can comfortably stretch the first day. Make note of that and see where you’re at on the last day!
- Pick exercises that address your particular problem areas or the areas that are worked that day rather than fitting in full body each day
- Get your friends involved! You can also join our accountability group here. Studies have shown that having an accountability partner or group can help people develop and maintain a habit
- Push yourself a little further every day! Maybe that’s to fit in a few more minutes per day, hold a stretch a little bit longer, or go a little further (just be careful it’s not to the point of pain!)
- Make a goal at the start. It can be daily, weekly, or for the whole challenge. Make sure your goal is measurable and give yourself a way to track it. If you meet your goal, get yourself a reward!
Will you join us for this month’s challenge?
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