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Be More Flexible With This One-Week Stretching Program

Want to be more flexible? It’s the key to becoming more fit and lowering your risk of injury. Try our flexibility fitness challenge.

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be more flexible, woman doing a high leg yoga posePhoto credit: shutterstock

How to be more flexible

Looking for a new fitness challenge? Cardio and strength training get all the hype, but when is the last time you focused on flexibility? Often overlooked, flexibility can reduce your risk of injury by making your muscles more pliable, and loosening those muscles could give your heart health a boost, too. A 2009 study found that those who have stiff muscles are likely to have stiff arteries as well.

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Fitness challenge, Mondayillustration:Marie Parsons

Be more flexible on Monday

Lunge hip flexor stretch
3 reps each side
With one knee on the floor behind you and the opposite foot on the floor in front of you, tilt your pelvis forward and reach up with your arm on the same side as your knee on the floor. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat the same move, switching legs and arms.
This will help stretch those muscles around the hips that become stiff and tight from sitting at your desk

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Fitness challenge, Tuesdayillustration:Marie Parsons

Be more flexible on Tuesday

Seated piriformis stretch
5 reps each leg

Sit on the edge of a chair, cross one ankle over your opposite knee, lean forward and keep your chest tall. Hold for five seconds, then switch legs.

This glute stretch may help with sciatic pain

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Fitness challenge, Wednesdayillustration:Marie Parsons

Be more flexible on Wednesday

Seated hamstring stretch

8 reps

Sit on the edge of a chair with your legs in a V shape and toes pulled backwards. Bend at the hips slightly and keep your chest tall. Hold for two seconds.

Hamstrings can get tight, whether you are active or not. So be sure to stretch them after your workouts.

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Fitness challenge, Thursdayillustration:Marie Parsons

Be more flexible on Thursday

Lying rotation stretch

5 reps, each side

Lie on one side with your knees bent and stacked one over the other. Stretch your arms out parallel to the floor in either direction and bring your upper back flat against the floor. Holding for five seconds, then repeat on the other side.

This stretch is one way to help alleviate tight back muscles and pain (with the go-ahead from your health care provider, of course).

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Fitness challenge, Fridayillustration:Marie Parsons

Be more flexible on Friday

Doorway chest stretch

1o reps

Place your hands on either side of a door frame, with your elbows bent, lean in to open up your chest and slide your forearms up and down. Go at a slow pace.

If you are into yoga, this stretch will complement your practice.

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Fitness challenge, Saturdayillustration:Marie Parsons

Be more flexible on Saturday

Wall angels

10 reps

Stand with your back against a wall and your feet six inches from the wall. Stretch your arms forward and back to the wall, keeping your palms up and your back flat, allowing the elbows to flare wide. Hold for two seconds.

This is a challenging move, but it will stretch the shoulders and chest, so you can be more active and lower your risk of injury.

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be more flexible exercises, all six moves illustratedillustration credit: Marie Parsons

Be more flexible on Sunday

Do all 6 stretches

Skip the rest day and combine all the stretches into a complete workout. Be sure to stick to proper form and complete the required reps. Stick with it and you will be more flexible.

Once you achieve this and can do these moves with ease, combine it with our Get Stronger In One Week workout.

Originally Published in Best Health Canada