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Winter Health: Stretching for Mind and Body

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Wellness related image Photo: Getty Images

This winter, like the many others that have come before, is the time when millions of Americans have sworn to start exercising more, being more active, and making healthier choices.

There’s just one small, intimidating and possibly hazardous factor for those of us who either don’t have a gym membership, or quickly get tired of exercising in place. The culprit: chilly weather.

Well unfortunately, only time will relieve us of cold weather. However, whether we want to exercise outside or simply stay on our toes this winter, stretching is an important activity.

Although stretching should always go hand in hand with exercise, it is also an important activity in the winter, when the cold weather can affect our joints and mobility.

Many people report feeling physically stiff during the winter, and with stiffness comes injury and discomfort.

I can personally report more easily injuring myself during the winter -- during very non-strenuous activities, might I add.

There are many benefits to stretching:

Reduce injury
It isn’t rocket science that stretching before exercising can reduce the risk of injury. Because cold weather causes stiffness, it’s that much more important during the winter.

Increase flexibility
The more flexible you are, the better workout you’re going to have. A better workout equals a better bod, and a more confident, empowhered woman. Stretch.

Decrease soreness
Stretching before and after exercising will decrease any soreness you may feel later on. That way, your “I’m too sore to exercise today” excuse won’t hold up the next day!

Stretching seems easy enough, but there are some things you should keep in mind:

Before stretching, make sure you're not too cold or too stiff, as this can cause greater injury. To get the most preventative care, move your joints a bit and go for a short walk to warm your body.

Don’t stretch in a hurry. An impatient stretch sesh can lead to aggressive and harmful stretching. Relax and take deep breaths.

Stretch gradually and gently. Instead of feeling pain while stretching, you should slowly ease into your stretches and have patience with your progress.

Hold the stretch for 10 - 30 seconds, the longer the better.

Remember not to bounce while you stretch. According to fitsugar, “Bouncing can cause microtrauma in the muscle, which must heal itself with scar tissue. The scar tissue tightens the muscle, making you less flexible, and more prone to pain.”

Stretching is a great way to start the morning, allowing you to ease into the day while waking up. Stretching can even be your own little morning meditation, if you can quiet your mind and get in tune with your body.

This winter, try to incorporate daily stretching to avoid injuries and increase your flexibility!


Prevent Disease.com - Stretching Warms You Up for Cold Weather Sports. (n.d.). Prevent Disease.com - Aiming Towards Better Health. Retrieved January 13, 2012, from

The Importance of Stretching | Health & Fitness Transformations. (n.d.). Health & Fitness Transformations. Retrieved January 13, 2012, from http://istahc.org/the-importance-of-stretching-2.html

Why Bouncing and Stretching Don't Mix. (2007, March 15). Fitness, Health & Well-Being | FitSugar. Retrieved January 13, 2012, from http://www.fitsugar.com/Why-Bouncing-Stretching-Dont-Mix-156261

Reviewed January 16, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg
Edited by Jody Smith

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EmpowHER Guest

Many people don't really mind stretching. Specially doing it properly. Thank you for your tips. By this I know that what I am doing is right when it comes to stretching.

May 25, 2012 - 1:28pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.