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When Exercising, Don't Skip Stretching

from Asbury Park Press

It's no stretch to say that a lot of us underestimate the value of flexibility.

While it's true that stretching won't strengthen your heart or flatten your stomach, it can help you reach those goals more efficiently. Aerobic exercise and strength training need muscles that are in balance and work smoothly. That's where stretching comes in — as a complement to the activity you choose. It's so important the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) includes flexibility training in its recommendations for staying fit.

Exercise, and other factors, can cause your muscles to shorten. By regularly stretching the muscles, you counteract that shortening. Stretching promotes flexibility, allowing you to move your muscles and joints through their full range of motion.

Muscles that are warmed up before being put under a sudden stress are more likely to be able to handle the stress. Mild warm-up exercises before vigorous exertion is always recommended.

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