Aerobic exercise and strength training are important for your health, but so is stretching. Learn how to stretch to help your heart.
When we think of stretching, we usually think of our body becoming more flexible, but it also helps blood vessels. According to a new study from the University of Milan in Italy, 12-week stretching regimens may improve circulation and more. Their results show that stretching can improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, and decrease the stiffness of arteries.
The 40 participants (consisting of men and women) were divided into three groups:
- Group 1 did multiple leg, ankle, and foot stretches for 40 minutes, 5 times per week.
- Group 2 stretched one side of the body for 40 minutes, 5 times per week.
- Group 3 did not do any stretching.
At the end of the study, researchers found that the stretching groups had better blood vessel health than Group 3. Furthermore, participants in groups 1 and 2 had better blood vessel function and their arteries were much less stiff.
Stretching and Heart Health
Participants of the study did passive stretching, a type that uses stretch bands or their own weight and gravity. While stretching does improve blood vessel function, according to the study, the researchers note that aerobic exercise yields better results. However, stretching is a good option for at-home exercises, especially if you’re stuck at home due to COVID-19.
In addition, it’s important to remember that stretching shouldn’t replace other heart health strategies; instead, add it to your routine. For example, you should stretch but also manage your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. You can do this through healthy eating, exercising regularly, and taking prescription medications as necessary.
When it comes to a healthy diet, try the Mediterranean diet or another plant-based diet. These diets usually include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and lean protein like fish and poultry. You should also limit your consumption of red meat, added sugars, salt, and full-fat dairy products.
Safe Stretching Practices
To avoid injuries, make sure you keep your breath smooth and steady while stretching and don’t hold your breath. Also, while you should feel some mild discomfort, you shouldn’t feel pain.
If you do any bouncing or jerking movements, you can injure yourself, so remember to simply hold the stretch. Moreover, you shouldn’t rush to get it done; instead, try holding your stretch for 10 to 30 seconds. Before the next exercise, release the stretch and repeat.
Finally, the best times to stretch are after a workout or after a hot bath or shower. These activities will keep your muscles warm and ready to stretch.
In addition, if you’re looking for an extra boost to your heart health, try HeartBeet Complete. It effectively promotes your circulation, blood pressure, energy levels, and more. Try HeartBeet Complete as part of your health routine along with stretching to give your heart the support it needs.