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Flexibility and Stretching

Can you easily bend over to touch your toes? Can you sit cross-legged on the floor? If not, your body lacks flexibility. Having a flexible body is such a treat. It gives your movements grace and fluidity. You look great. Your spine is strong, and you're less likely to risk injury.

You gain flexibility from stretching exercises that elongate the body muscles. Stretching feels good. It's typically relaxing because, as you stretch, you release the tension held in your muscles.


Stretching is almost guaranteed to make you feel better, and you don't need to naturally be a human pretzel to enjoy it. If you're out of shape, stretching exercises will pay off right away. You'll learn to feel how your body works, will begin to elongate your muscles, and will feel more relaxed.

We need to talk for a moment here about your tummy. If you're finding that all the abdominal crunches in the world aren't giving you a flat tummy, try stretching. Do a slow backbend over a fitness ball, stretching each part of the front of the body as you slowly roll back over the ball. Then turn over face down and stretch your back. This elongates your abdominal muscles and feels great.

Here are some forms of exercise that will help you stretch:

  • Pilates

  • Yoga

  • Tibetans

  • Flexibility and stretching classes

  • Stretching videos and books

We suggest that you also stretch after your cardio workouts and after strength training. In fact, stretch every day just for the utter joy of it.

More on: Exercise Tips


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Weight Loss © 2005 by Lucy Beale and Sandy G. Couvillon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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