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Diet Action Steps

Stretch every day for 10-15 minutes

Don’t underestimate the importance of stretching. Often overlooked, this simple exercise holds many weight loss benefits.

Stretching helps breathing and circulation. It improves muscle tone, strength and flexibility. It prevents injury so you can stick with a consistent fitness program. It’s relaxing (stress has real links to weight gain). And it’s exercise you can do anywhere – at your desk, at your daughter’s soccer game, even while driving. If you’re the type to plan out your daily exercise, mornings are perfect for stretching. This will not only prepare your muscles for the day, but the slow increase in heart rate also allows your body to wake up properly.

Here are tips on how to stretch:

  • Inhale deeply.
  • As you exhale, slowly and smoothly stretch to a point of moderate tension, before the warm "burn" turns painful. Don't bounce or jerk.
  • Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds.
  • Breathe deeply and naturally during the stretch hold. Don't hold your breath. Stay relaxed.
  • Slowly unstretch, and relax for a few seconds.
  • Repeat the stretch two more times.
  • If possible, try to extend the hold time a few seconds and to stretch a little farther each time.
Stretching is great when you’re getting back into fitness because it’s an inviting exercise. Gyms, with literally tons of exercise equipment and Nautilus machines, can appear a bit confusing or intimidating. This week, use 10-15 minute bits of stretching as a springboard to the gym, or to joining a walking or running club. Enjoy this action step; you might incorporate soothing music or scented candles. Use this time to relax, all while exercising and reawakening your muscles.

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