What You Should Know About Stretching and Cold Weather

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Stretching is an important element to remaining limber and in top shape, but stretching should not be confused with warming up. Stretching when muscles are cold, especially when the weather is also cold, can lead to pulled muscles and injuries. On the other hand, warming up before exercising or taking part in any physical activity is absolutely critical when it’s cold. Stretching should be done, but it should be done as part of the cool down routine at the end of the exercise session or in between sets.

Warming Up

Warming up should be done by moving around and doing light activities. If preparing to do a specific type of exercise for a long period of time, such as running, it may be practical to do a light form of the exercise. In this instance of running, walking or jogging in place may suffice. It is important to warm up any parts of the body that will be used during the exercise session. Warm-ups should be done for a period of time between five and 30 minutes, taking longer for colder days. The muscles should actually feel warm before beginning more rigorous exercise.

Benefits of Stretching When It’s Cold

As long as stretching is done at the appropriate time, stretching during the cooler months can have several benefits. The muscles and joints tend to stiffen when the weather gets cold. Stretching frequently can help to prevent the muscles and joints from stiffening and can keep the circulation balanced. This can in turn help to regulate blood pressure and heart rate, which often rise when the temperatures drop. There may also be respiratory benefits, especially in people that experience asthma symptoms or have frequent respiratory infections.

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