Trying to incorporate exercise into a morning routine can be quite the challenge. However, the benefits of stretching in the morning — for as little as five minutes — outweigh any inconvenience you think it might pose while you're rushing to get ready for work or eat some semblance of a breakfast.
The American Heart Association recommends that instead of stretching cold in the morning, stretch when your muscles are warm, such as when you get out of bed. So set your clock to wake you up five to 10 minutes earlier and stretch in front of a sun-filled window.
Go about your day with an improved posture and greater stores of energy when you indulge in a five- to 30-minute stretching routine every morning.
Improve Your Posture
There are a number of benefits associated with stretching — such as improvements in posture. Many people, especially those who sit in front of a computer for extended periods of time, develop poor posture as a result of overstretched back muscles and tight chest muscles. You get a hunched back and your shoulders hover just below your ears.
Implementing a morning routine of stretches that focus on opening these muscles can be effective for loosening them up. As these muscles become more and more flexible, changes in stance and posture will become evident. Perform a series of shoulder shrugs and chest-opening stretches at your desk as well throughout the day.
Fewer Aches and Pains
Morning stretches can also be useful when it comes to eliminating aches and pains in the muscles and joints. While these aches and pains can develop at any time throughout the day, they often occur in the morning — after the body has been at rest for a long period. For best results, use gentle stretching to warm up the body and alleviate joint discomfort. Harvard Health Publishing says that, as you get older, besides your muscles shrinking, you can look forward to less fluid surrounding your tendons.
Increased Blood Flow
The American Council on Exercise Fitness says that stretching can also be useful when it comes to increasing blood flow to all parts of the body — including the brain. Though healthy blood flow is important all day long, it may be especially crucial during the morning hours, as folks jump start their day after being asleep for several hours. Adequate blood flow increases concentration and sharpens senses.
Greater Amounts of Energy
Trying to find enough energy to make it through a long and arduous day can sometimes seem impossible. Stretching in the morning helps give you that "get up and go" feeling and will support your energy throughout the day as it prevents lethargy and feelings of tiredness.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 150 to 300 minutes of moderately intense cardio per week and at least two muscle-strengthening workouts a week. Flexibility workouts are not yet part of the Guidelines, but they do admit that gaining flexibility through stretching is an important part of any physical activity program.