A big part of beginning a physical activity program is getting used
to the feel of using your muscles, and flexibility can be a great place to
start. Just as with other kinds of physical activity, it's best to start slowly
and increase your efforts gradually.
Stretching exercises will help you as you become more active.
Stretching before and after aerobic exercise (even walking) and muscle
strengthening may prevent injury and reduce muscle soreness and cramping. One approach is to take 5 to 10 minutes
before and after each program to stretch your muscles. Be sure to stretch the
muscles you will be using when you exercise.
Tips for stretching
As a warm-up to other exercise: Get blood flowing into the muscles before the stretch to prevent injuries. Walk or do some other light aerobic exercise for a few minutes.
As part of a cool-down from other exercise: Your muscles are usually very warm and will benefit from stretching and lengthening to improve your overall flexibility and reduce soreness.
Ease yourself into the stretch, relax, and don't
push or bounce. You should feel a stretch in the muscle which might be a little uncomfortable, but not
Exhale as you do the stretch. While you are holding the
stretch, inhale deeply.
Try closing your eyes while stretching. It
helps you relax and reduces self-consciousness and the urge to
Take a moment to enjoy the good, warm feeling that comes
after a good stretch.