This week’s Thrive in Five is about daily stretching
It’s the fourth part of our Magic Minute series; little slivers of activity or thought that can give you more energy. So far, we have talked about Daydreaming, Motivational Images, and Feeling Grateful. This week, I want to talk about how daily stretching can improve both your physical and mental health.
The Science Behind Stretching
Stretching contributes to parasympathetic dominance within the nervous system, meaning it helps us to feel calmer and more relaxed. It also releases endorphins: neurotransmitters that interact with pain receptors to give us a pleasant tingling sensation.
Scientific studies have shown that daily stretching leads to a decrease in cortisol levels, known as the stress hormone, by 20%. It can also boost testosterone levels up to 25%. Testosterone isn’t just a male hormone; everyone has it, though some people have more than others. In women, it is produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands. The testosterone in our bodies helps us to maintain normal metabolic function, bone and muscle strength, and cognitive skills. It also increases the release of dopamine: a chemical that allows you to feel pleasure, satisfaction, and motivation.
Daily Stretching Made Easy
I want to talk about a couple of stretches that I do every day; the first is the power pose. It’s pretty simple: plant your feet hip-width apart, point your chin up slightly, and stretch out your arms with palms facing upwards. Hold this for a magic minute – two if you like – and you’ll start to get that tingly sensation I talked about earlier. Your arms may feel a little fatigued but stick with it for the full benefits.
Another easy stretch I like to do is hold one hand in the other up above my head, and just flex off to one side, changing direction after about 30 seconds. You can even practice stretching at your desk by gently rolling your neck from left to right.
What works for you
It’s all about doing what works for you. So, I want you to explore some stretches and find out what feels good. Perhaps you could set a timer for once an hour to remind you to get up and have a go. It’s a really great opportunity to get more energy into your day – and get a bit of a cheap-fill of endorphins too!
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