Like cardiovascular and muscle conditioning, flexibility provides many anti-aging benefits. Any time is a good time to stretch. Increasing your flexibility will lengthen your muscles, improve your exercise performance and help you with everyday activities.

Many factors affect our flexibility. These include gender, heredity, pain, injury and age. Range of motion decreases as we age. By incorporating stretching into your fitness program, you can reduce joint pain, decrease risk of injury and improve ease of movement.

Flexibility is the range of motion of a joint or a series of joints. There are 3 main types of stretching. Static stretching involves holding the stretch at the position of its furthest point.

In dynamic stretching you are gradually increasing the reach and speed of movement of your body parts. PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching involves contracting the stretched muscle against resistance in order to deepen the stretch. People, who regularly exercise, such as bodybuilders and athletes, often neglect stretching as a part of their fitness program.

Their muscles can become tight, thereby affecting performance. It is very important to include flexibility as a part of a balanced workout.

All muscles groups that are used should be stretched. This should be done at least 3 days a week. Stretches should be held to a position of mild discomfort for 10 seconds to 2 minutes. They should be performed slowly and smoothly, never bounce. It is important to breathe during each movement; exhaling and you go further into the stretch. Never force or strain the muscles and joints. The moves should be repeated 3-5 times.



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