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Exercise & Fitness
Most Australians understand the importance of incorporating cardiovascular and weights training into their fitness regime, however stretching is a major aspect that is often ignored.
There are many health and fitness benefits attached to stretching, and yet it is frequently dismissed as an activity that requires little strength or stamina.
"There is a myth that stretching won't actually increase your health and fitness," says Tim Sunderland, a personal trainer at Goodlife Ashgrove.
"This couldn't be further from the truth, as stretching actually improves both body and mind."
From a physical standpoint, stretching increases blood circulation, ensuring a consistent supply of nutrients to muscles and cartilage.
Stretching is equally important professional athletes as it is for everyday people
"In this way, stretching can reduce your muscle soreness after training, decrease your likelihood of injuries and improve your range of movement," says Sunderland.
Stretching also assists in correct posture, by relaxing muscles that would otherwise be tensed away from their natural position.
"Professionals define fitness within four main categories; aerobic capability, muscular strength, body composition and flexibility," says Sunderland.
"Without adequate stretching, there is simply no way to improve your body's flexibility."
Stretching has many various psychological benefits, as it releases muscle tension and encourages measured breathing.
"This helps reduce stress, increases your energy and focus," says Sunderland.
Stretching can be assisted by fitness balls, foam rollers and with the help of personal trainers
Fitness professionals recommend stretching after every training session, for at least ten minutes, with particular focus on areas of the body that have been exerted.
"Yoga and pilates classes are also great ways to concentrate on stretching, and a one hour class each week is best," says Sunderland.
Stretching can also be assisted by gym balls, foam rollers and with the help of others, so consult a fitness professional on the best approach to suit personal needs.
"Don't neglect stretching, it's the unsung hero of peak health and fitness, and should be included in everyone's regime," says Sunderland.
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