Let’s face it, after a long day of work or taking care of others, we all look forward to flopping down on a couch and watching our favorite TV shows. But sitting all day results in stiff joints while moving helps to lengthen and strengthen muscles which reduces the risk of injury, especially with age. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), adults should do flexibility exercises two to three times per week. But many of us find incorporating stretching into a jammed-packed week difficult to schedule.
Consider this: by doing just these five simple exercises per night, you can get your workout in without missing a minute of your favorite show.
Let’s begin with what you need to get started. Most likely, you have already changed into your comfy pants and shirt at the end of the day. If not, put on some sweats or loose-fitting clothes to help make movement easy and unrestricted. If possible, grab an exercise or yoga mat, but if you have carpet, that works too. That’s it. Now turn on the TV and get ready to stretch into the evening.
- Neck Stretching: This is a simple but excellent stretching exercise for your neck that can be done anytime and anywhere. I’ve found myself doing it on plane rides to relieve the tension of sitting for hours, while others find it helpful to do while sitting at their desk. Some people would do neck rolls with the head tilting forward and back as part of a stretch routine but that exercise puts too much stress on the neck and can cause injury. Here’s what you should do:
- Stand straight and look forward. Relax your shoulders and gently tilt your head towards one shoulder. Be aware not to push yourself too far and if this doesn’t feel right, stop the stretch. Try to hold for three seconds.
- Tilt your head to the other side, gently stretch your neck. You should feel a gentle stretch and then return to the start position, with eyes straight forward.
- Repeat this exercise 10 times.
- Downward Facing Dog: Even if you have never taken a yoga class, you’ve probably heard of the downward dog position. This classic yoga pose stretches your back, chest and hamstrings.
- Begin on your hands and knees. Ensure your hands are under your shoulders and knees under your hips, so you are in as square a position as possible.
- Lift your tailbone, drawing your hips toward the ceiling. Straighten your legs as best as you can and press your heels gently toward the floor.
- Relax your head between your arms, facing your knees. Your back should be flat. Ideally, work up to holding the position for 60 seconds.
- Hamstring Helper: Sitting in a chair all day creates tight hamstrings – those tendons and muscles at the back of your thighs.
- Take your left foot forward and tip from the hips, keeping the back flat.
- Lower down until you feel a stretch in the back of the leg.
- Rest the hands on the upper thighs to give your back some support.
- Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and switch sides, repeating one to three times.
- Triceps Stretch: To improve upper arm mobility and help prevent tight muscles, stretch out the triceps. This move is simple but effective.
- Lift one arm above your head while standing and bend at the elbow to reach down behind your neck. Use your free hand to push that raised arm further down behind your head gently. Repeat with the opposite arm.
- Child’s Pose: This is a great way to end your stretches and is an incredibly comfortable position. This movement can not only relieve tension in the lower back, but many have found it also effective in reducing stress and anxiety.
- Kneel on your mat or carpet with your knees wider than hip-width apart and your feet together behind you.
- Sit back on your heels (as best as you can) and fold forward, resting your belly on your thighs. Extend your arms out in front of you and rest your forehead on the floor. You’ll feel this stretch in your shoulders and back, in addition to your hips and glutes.
- Modify your stretch if you’re having trouble getting your bottom to reach your heels by placing a rolled-up blanket between your thighs and calves.
- Press your chest and shoulders gently toward the ground to deepen the stretch.
- Hold for at least 30 seconds.
Watching TV, especially at the end of a hectic day, is the ultimate wind down that many of us crave. Why not combine this downtime with stretching to relax your body and your mind? It takes just 5 impactful and effective moves to create a more flexible and healthier body.
About the Author
Samantha Clayton is the vice president of Sports Performance and Fitness Education at Herbalife Nutrition. She has direct responsibility for all activities relating to exercise and fitness education for Herbalife Nutrition independent distributors and employees, and leads a team that designs nutrition protocols for elite athletes. Clayton is a certified personal trainer with specialty certifications in group fitness, youth fitness programming, senior fitness and athletic conditioning. Through group training sessions, fitness educational tools and the Herbalife Nutrition-sponsored blogs I Am Herbalife Nutrition and Discover Good Nutrition, Clayton ensures that consumers understand the vital role exercise plays in living a healthier and happier lifestyle. Having performed at the highest athletic level, Clayton represented Great Britain at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in both the 200m and the 4x100m relay events.