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Stretching your legs could help prevent disease, study finds

Researchers are encouraging consumers to get their blood flowing

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Photo (c) Halfpoint - Getty Images
Though many consumers’ regular exercising routines are currently compromised because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s still as important as ever to get moving and get the blood flowing. 

Researchers from The Physiological Society found that something as simple as stretching daily can help prevent diseases like diabetes and heart disease. These findings are encouraging because they provide an accessible option for consumers looking to stay active while at home. 

“This new application of stretching is especially relevant in the current pandemic period of increased confinement to our homes, where the possibility of performing beneficial training to improve and prevent heart disease, stroke, and other conditions is limited,” said researcher Emiliano Ce. 

Light movement, big benefits

The researchers had nearly 40 participants involved in the study, half of whom underwent a 12-week stretching routine while the other half carried on with their routines as usual. 

The stretching program involved passive leg stretching five times per week. Passive stretching involves either a partner or a prop, like a resistance band or the wall. The person stretching can stay still in one position, while the person or the other active force can put the pressure on the muscle that needs stretching. 

All participants had their blood flow measured at the beginning and end of the study, and the researchers also evaluated blood pressure and other vitals to understand the effect that stretching had on the body. 

The researchers learned that stretching regularly left the participants with numerous health benefits. They observed improved blood flow in key areas, including the upper arm and lower leg. The participants also reported less pain and tightness in the areas that were stretched. 

Because of the improvements to the participants’ blood flow, the researchers think that these findings have revealed an important piece of the puzzle regarding heart disease. Because stretching doesn’t require a great deal of physical exertion, it can be a great way for those struggling with heart health to get the blood flowing and improve overall health outcomes.

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