Stretching is a gentle movement that can help tone different areas of the body when done regularly in repetitions. Some exercise disciplines such as Pilates and yoga feature many different stretches that tone as well as relax the body. The benefits of daily stretching can include a more limber, less injury-prone body, lower stress levels, better muscle tone and less overall pain.
When people don't move their muscles enough, aches and pains often result — especially with increased age. Doing daily stretching exercises usually has the result of keeping the muscles working more smoothly; this can greatly reduce muscle ache and joint pain. While ice, heat and massage may all minimize muscle ache, regular stretching can prevent muscles from "freezing up" or cramping so the extra treatments may not be necessary.
Having a routine of stretching exercises and sticking to it daily can result in a more firm and tone body in a month or more's time. Stretching the arms and legs every day can help keep unattractive flab away. Since stretching should be done gently and slowly, it's not strenuous; people of all fitness levels can do it. Even those with limited mobility can stretch limbs in which they have some capacity for movement. Elderly persons or those who are ill and can't stand for very long may be able to do seated daily stretching.
Seated stretches can be done from a chair or wheelchair. A daily stretching routine that matches a person's mobility and flexibility levels can be completed from a sitting position. Even people who are confined to bed rest may be able to do some stretching depending on their doctor's approval. They may be able to stretch their body forward at the waist while stretching out their hands and feet. If stretching is combined with deep, relaxing breathing it may help to calm a person and lower feelings of stress.
Another strong benefit of daily stretching as an exercise is that no special equipment or a lot of space is needed. It's also not a noisy activity such as stair-stepping, so it can be done in an apartment with other residences below or while roommates are sleeping. Stretching before daily workouts such as running can help prevent injury because it warms up, or prepares, the muscles and joints for strenuous exercise. Stretching also helps the body recover, or cool down, when done after the strenuous exercise to help get the heart rate and breathing back to normal.