Popular wisdom says stretching doesn’t build muscle, burn fat, or shave time off a 5K. As a result, many of us shortchange or skip the practice altogether in our workouts. But according to many fitness experts, popular wisdom is wrong —and we’re missing out on its benefits. Stretching has been shown to help prevent injury, heal old hurts, improve range of motion, reduce muscle tightness and imbalance, and improve athletic performance. In fact, it’s so important to overall fitness that it’s not something to approach haphazardly.
We’re a nation of sitters. Thanks to TV binge watching, desk jobs, and the ever-present allure of the Internet, the simple art of moving — at work and at home, indoors and out — is disappearing. A 2011 study found that Americans spend more than half their waking hours sitting down — and at a considerable cost to our health. The more we sit, researchers discovered, the higher our risk of first-world illnesses of affluence: diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
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