If you resolved to get in better shape this year, you’re not alone! According to a survey published by Inc.com, exercising more often tops the list of most common New Year’s resolutions. It falls right behind eating healthier. Losing weight and cutting back on alcohol aren’t far behind.
It’s no shocker that exercising regularly is important. It boosts your heart health, reduces tension, and increases your mood. It can also reduce your risk of diseases like cancer and diabetes. And that’s only a few of the bonuses offered by getting fit. Add stretching into the mix and you’ll help prevent injuries, reduce pain, and cut down on your stress levels—by a lot!
Many people choose to combine their love of stretching with a super popular type of exercise—yoga! Those who believe completing a yoga class will garner their bodies the full benefits of a stretching session, though, are mistaken. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Yoga?
Trendy and spiritual, yoga has become one of the most popular (and well-marketed) forms of group exercise. After all, their trademark “yoga pants” have become the uniform for stay-at-home moms on all sides of the globe. As a result of its over publicized popularity, most envision beautiful Lululemon-clad people contorting their bodies while chanting “ohm” in an ocean-front studio when they think about yoga. The truth is, yoga is more holistic than the media makes it seem. But, it’s not the same as stretching.
What’s the Difference Between Yoga and Stretching?
While both are good for your health, yoga and stretching work your body in different ways. If you’re looking to prevent injuries and reduce pain, your best bet is to stretch regularly, in addition to your yoga regime.
Yoga is a posture-based workout focusing on a healthy blend of physical, mental, and spiritual practices. It incorporates strength training, breathing, and stretching into its regime. That said, just because you do yoga doesn’t mean you’re properly stretched.
Stretching involves straightening a part of the body to its full length. The medical definition of stretching is “a massage technique that consists of pulling a body region or extremity away from its most anatomically neutral position.” This can be done actively (with the person’s help) or passively (without help). The result: increased range of motion, released tension, and injury prevention, among other benefits.
Is Yoga Better than Stretching?
No. According to a study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, those who stretch regularly notice significantly less stress than those who practice restorative yoga. That isn’t to say there aren’t benefits to doing yoga—there are! And plenty of them. But if you’re looking to experience the most positive effects of stretching, you’ll need to add targeted stretching as well as yoga to your exercise routine.
No matter which you choose (yoga, stretching, or both), be sure to check with a professional to be sure you’re doing it right. Or better yet, come in for a stretch at The Vital Stretch®.