Be more ‘flexible’ in your fitness thinking

Fitness training can be broken down into three main components: cardiovascular, strength and flexibility.
Care to guess which one gets overlooked the most? Or is most often done wrong?
I think most people would agree it’s stretching, which many don’t do much of at all, but is just as important.
It’s more fun and interesting to embark on a weightlifting or cardio routine.
People have asked me before what kind of weightlifting or cardio I do, how much or for how long, but they’ve rarely asked about stretching.
But if you don’t stretch right – before, during and after – injuries will be much more likely.
Maintaining good flexibility becomes more and more important as we get older. It can actually keep you moving a lot better well into life.
Here are some flexibility tips:

Take stretching seriously
Be as serious about stretching as the main core of your fitness program
Any stretching will help, provided you use proper form. However, a few quick stretches before working out won’t do much.
Think and learn more about stretching.

Come up with a stretching plan designed for you
Pay particular attention to your specific needs and what types of activities you do. One size, or stretching program, does not fit all.
It will improve stability and mobility in all you do.

Focus on problem areas
Listen to your body and it will tell you certain areas need special stretching attention. Get a good all-around stretch, but also make sure to give extra time to tighter areas, or ones with an injury history.

Use proper form
First and foremost, don’t try to do an all-out stretching routine when you’re just starting a workout! The body will be cold and results will be greatly reduced. Do some general, very light stretching for a few minutes, get in about 5-10 minutes of light walking, biking or jogging and then spend 5-10 minutes doing a complete stretch. Avoid bouncing or jerking, instead slowly stretch your muscles to the endpoint of movement and hold the stretch for about 10 to 30 seconds. Senior citizens, people with injuries or other special situations may need to take precautions.

Stretch your mindset
Finally, even if you’re a teen or 20-something who’s one of the top athletes around, know that stretching is still highly important for you. It’s not something to be taken seriously just by the old or unconditioned.
A consistent stretching program will be more important in the long run than how much you can bench press or squat.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at