Joy Jensen via NaturalHealth365 – We already know that Americans tend to spend a lot of time sitting, something that’s often referred to as “sitting disease.” In fact, too much inactivity has a serious impact on heart health and overall wellbeing – linked to issues such as, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. To make matters even worse, new COVID-19 “stay-at-home” orders have left many people more inactive than ever.
But, one new study that’s particularly relevant right now with the COVID-19 restrictions many people are facing reveals the vascular benefits of stretching. This recent study, published in the Journal of Physiology, found that regular leg stretching exercises were linked to an improvement in vascular function.
Naturally, this kind of information comes at a critical time when many people – even those who were formerly active – aren’t moving around nearly enough.
Stretching Exercises Associated with Improvement in Vascular Function
The small study done at the University of Milan in Italy looked specifically at leg stretching exercises. Individuals involved in the study underwent 12 weeks of passive stretching training, and after that 12 weeks, researchers observed significant systemic and local vascular improvement.
Participants had a 30 percent increase in their femoral change in blood flow, peripheral arterial stiffness decreased by 17 percent, and central arterial stiffness decreased by 25 percent. They also found that after 12 weeks of the stretching training, participants had a four percent decrease in their systolic blood pressure and an eight percent decrease in their diastolic blood pressure.
Controls who did no stretching had no major changes in these measurements during the study.
According to researchers, the study clearly shows that the passive stretching training was effective at decreasing stiffness in both arteries directly involved and those not directly involved, as well as improving overall vascular function. The changes observed suggest that stretching results in both systemic and local cardiovascular adjustments.
Since stretching has been shown effective at improving vascular function, researchers believe that it has practical implications for further use as a treatment for improving vascular health while reducing cardiovascular risks. It especially has potential in individuals dealing with limited mobility.
Improving Heart Health During Pandemic-Induced Down Time
Researchers specifically noted that the new application of using stretching to improve vascular health is especially relevant right now, when pandemic-induced downtime due to stay-at-home orders and other COVID-19 restrictions leaves many individuals confined to their homes. Access to training that prevents heart disease and other health conditions is currently limited, but something as simple as routine passive stretching can help.
If you’re currently confined to your home right now, you can combat sitting disease and lower your risk of serious health complications related to excessive sitting by adding stretching to your own daily routine. It’s easier than you think.
According to John Hopkins, you can take small steps to combat sitting without having to go to the gym. They recommend standing for eight minutes for every 20 minutes that you’re sitting and moving for at least two minutes. Aiming to get 10,000 steps a day, even if you’re walking around your house or right outside your home can also help.
Before you stretch, it’s a good idea to warm up your muscles – so, walk around for a few minutes before you begin your stretching routine. And, remember, you do not have to move vigorously – you just have to move to see the benefits.