A lot of exercises and diets are recommended to people looking to lose weight, but another activity that is also often recommended is stretching.
If you want to lose weight and make your body appear leaner and slimmer, you may have been told to try a few stretches – but does stretching help you burn calories?
Does it actually make your body look leaner? Check out the information below to find out!
What Is Stretching?
First, let’s take a look at what stretching actually is.
Stretching is a type of physical activity that makes you move your body in certain ways to help ‘stretch’ your muscles and tendons.
It lengths the muscles and improves their flexibility and elasticity by releasing tension.
As a result, stretching is not highly intense like other weight-loss exercises because it does not use your muscles to their fullest potential.
It’s an activity done before and after a workout session (or done on its own after a simple warm-up) to help prevent injuries and improve your performance rather than something to help you shift the pounds.
The Different Types Of Stretching
There are five main types of stretching used in different situations for different purposes. These are:
- Dynamic Stretching – A type of warm-up stretching that moves your muscles to activate them prior to a more intense workout.
- Static Stretching – Stretching and holding a muscle in a single position for a length of time.
- Ballistic Stretching – Stretches that use momentum to help strengthen your muscles.
- Passive Stretching – This stretch is done while you are relaxed and uses an outside agent (like another person, or a band) to move your muscles for you effortlessly.
- Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) – This stretch occurs when a muscle is passively stretched but you contract against it.
The Benefits Of Stretching
There are a lot of benefits to stretching, which is why it’s so widely recommended to anyone engaging in any kind of physical activity or exercise – no matter how intense it is!
Whether you are walking, jogging, swimming, or performing any high-intensity exercises, it’s always recommended that you warm up and stretch first – but why?
First, stretches help reduce any discomfort in your body. It stimulates your blood flow so your muscles are more ‘awake’ before you exercise.
This blood flow reduces the chances of any pulled muscles, cramps, or injuries as it helps improve your body’s flexibility and encourages your muscles to repair themselves.
So, stretching helps prevent your body from feeling any discomfort after exercising and reduces the chances of any injuries.
This is why it’s an important part of workout recovery as it releases tension from your muscles and stimulates blood flow to your muscles.
Secondly, stretches can improve your flexibility over time.
All that constant blood flow to your muscles help increases your flexibility in those areas – and this can have a huge impact on your performance during your workout.
Stretching also optimizes the range of motion for your joists so it’s a great way to restore your motion after repetitive exercises like weightlifting.
There is also evidence that supports the idea that stretching can also reduce the impact of aging on your body so you can remain active and flexible as you grow older.
What this all means is that stretching is important in helping your body stay comfortable while you exercise.
It reduces the risk of injuries and discomfort by releasing tension in your muscles and encouraging blood flow to the areas you are stretching.
In the long term, stretches can improve your flexibility and mobility either by lengthening your muscles or strengthening them.
This can also have a positive impact on your workout performance.
Does Stretching Make You Leaner?
If you want to make your body leaner, then your main goal will be to lose weight. To lose weight, you need to burn calories – which stretching can help you do in an unexpected way.
Stretching itself won’t actually burn a lot of calories.
To burn calories, you need to push your body to the limits and complete vigorous activities like running, weight-lifting, rowing, and more.
Stretching is not vigorous nor is it highly intense, so it doesn’t burn a lot of calories. You don’t lose weight by doing stretches alone – but they can help you burn more calories while exercising.
Completing regular stretches (especially before and after exercising) is proven to increase the number of calories you burn each day.
So, stretching can help your body become leaner but not by burning calories itself.
Instead, it improves your body’s physique so it is more efficient at burning calories while you perform more intense physical exercises.
However, things are a little up in the air when it comes to stretching and toning your body.
Some studies and reviews have had conflicting results when it comes to seeing if stretching can help tone your muscles.
While stretching can have an impact on muscle hypertrophy, some types of stretching like passive stretching have been proven not to have the same effect.
So, there’s no definite answer for whether or not stretching can help you tone your muscles for a fitter physique.
Best Stretches For Weight Loss
The best stretches for you all depend on what kind of exercise you are doing.
If you are looking for some regular stretches you can do to improve your body’s overall fitness without targeting a specific area, then here are some ideas for you to try:
- The Neck and Shoulder Stretch – This is a great stretch to do as your neck and shoulders can often become stiff from sitting all day at work. Tilt your chin forward to stretch the back of your neck, and roll your head from left to right to stretch the sides. Hold each stretch for 5 seconds and repeat.
- The Chest Opener – Stand up and hold your hands behind your back. Inhale and stretch your chest outwards. Hold for 5 seconds, then exhale and repeat.
- The Full Body Roll – Stand up and stretch your arms up. Then, relax and roll the spine until you are bent over. Relax your arms and bend your knees, hold the position, then roll back up gently to a standing position. Repeat the stretch.
So, stretching alone cannot make your body lean but repetitive stretching can help you burn more calories in your high-intensity workouts so you can lose more weight.
In a roundabout way, stretching can make you leaner – but you cannot rely on stretching alone to get the figure you want!