In a world focused on weight loss, it's easy to focus on calorie-burning cardio. But stretching and strength training are also important components of a healthy fitness routine: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get at least two sessions of muscle-strengthening exercise each week, on nonconsecutive days. Muscle-building exercise offers numerous benefits, but the most significant benefits are those that can prolong your life and improve your physical comfort.
Back pain and minor aches and pains are often the product of a sedentary lifestyle and weak muscles. Regular stretching can help your muscles work more effectively and smoothly, while strength training can reduce the pain you experience when doing daily activities such as lifting a child. Working your muscles trains them to work together, and the more frequently you exercise, the less likely you are to have muscle pain.
From muscle stiffness to poor posture and difficulty getting around, low mobility can be a major inconvenience and can even increase your risk of falling and injuries. Stretching and strength training can both increase mobility, according to the Mayo Clinic. Because these activities also reduce pain, they can make it easier to exercise, which will further improve mobility.
Preventing Chronic Illnesses
Regular strength training can help prevent a wide variety of chronic illnesses, including osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and obesity, according to the CDC. Even among people who already have these conditions, regular muscle-strengthening activities can help reduce symptoms. People who have more muscle are less likely to end up obese, partially because muscle burns more calories than fat, so strengthening your muscles can help prevent a broad variety of conditions associated with obesity.
According to the Mayo Clinic, regular stretching can reduce your risk of injuries and improve your athletic performance. Athletic injuries can quickly sideline a fitness routine and lead to chronic pain. To get the best results from stretching, only stretch after a warm-up, and never stretch to the point of pain or burning.
Regular strength training can reduce your risk of depression and anxiety, and alleviate symptoms if you already have one of these disorders, according to the CDC. This may be because regular stretching and strength training can improve self-esteem and confidence. They can also improve the quality of sleep, making it easier to take on a stressful day.
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