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Digital Subscriptions > Healthy Food Guide > October 2016 > IT’S SO GOOD TO STRETCH

IT’S SO GOOD TO STRETCH

Most of us like a quick stretch first thing in the morning. But as a regular activity, it can lengthen muscles and improve posture. Laura Day discovers a new flexible friend

DID YOU STRETCH when you got up this morning? Along with putting the kettle on and jumping in the shower, a morning stretch is a way of getting ourselves in gear before the day begins. But besides this brief, bleary-eyed burst of limbs, how often do you indulge?

Stretching 101

THIS FLEXING of a muscle or tendon helps improve its elasticity. It’s an instinct (think about animals when they wake up) that leaves us feeling flexible, invigorated and relaxed. Regular exercise shortens your muscles, which is why stretching is incorporated into any cool-down to bring muscles back to their resting length. If we don’t do it, we become stiff, lose our range of movement and may develop pain.

‘Easy movement of our bodies is something we take for granted until it’s going or gone,’ says Ciaran Organ, founder of PureStretch classes. ‘I see fitness instructors in their 50s coming to stretch classes after noticing their body deteriorate with wear and tear from years of exercise. Regular stretching gives them greater flexibility and mobility.’

Power to your muscles

AS WE GET OLDER our joints stiffen, our muscles age and we don’t move the way we used to. On average, a sedentary 50-yearold will lose almost half a pound of muscle every year (and you can start to lose it before that age if you’re inactive). But you don’t need to accept this decline as inevitable. Stretching can be restorative and preventive. It can do wonders for core strength, too.

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About Healthy Food Guide

In this month’s Healthy Food Guide our experts look at the latest research in lowering your cancer risk. We investigate the science of why hunger makes us angry, and share our best-ever healthy gluten-free baking tips for sweet treats that won’t disappoint. Plus, makeover chocolate muffins, Anjum Anand’s lighter India supper and simple meals with artichokes. Available to download now.
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