Stretching & Workout Programs

Stretching to improve flexibility should form an important part of any fitness program. The American College of Sports Medicine issued revised guidelines about stretching in 1998, which suggest that most people should try to do some stretching at least twice a week to increase their range of motion around a joint and muscular performance. Regular stretching will not only increase your flexibility, it will also help protect you against an exercise-related injury.

For any fitness program and for daily life in general, it's important that you maintain a good level of flexibility so that you can move your muscles through a full range around joints. This test will tell you how flexible you are in your hamstring muscles and lower back.

Sit on the floor with your legs together and directly out in front of you. Your bottom and back should be against a wall or door. Slowly lean forward towards your toes. How far can you reach with your fingertips?

  1. To your knees – poor flexibility
  2. Between your knees and ankles – reasonable flexibility
  3. To your ankles or beyond – excellent flexibility

Your initial goal should be to remain flexible and exercise moderately for at least 30 minutes a day for three days a week. Over a few weeks, try to increase this to five days a week – believe it or not, exercising at even this level is enough to provide major health benefits, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and the American College of Sports Medicine. The even better news is that each 30 minutes of exercise needn't be in one session – it can be accumulated throughout the day in chunks of least 10 minutes.