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Stretching for Heart Health: Relieve Stress and Live Longer

Nowadays, there is a lot of information out there about what is or isn’t good for your heart health, and much of it may seem conflicting. But one thing that all experts can agree on is that stretching is good for your heart. According to the American Heart Association, some common causes of poor heart health is chronic stress, poor diet, low physical activity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. All of these risk factors can lead to a much higher heart disease risk, including heart failure and heart attack. This is where stretching comes in, in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle in other aspects. Stretching can help you in many ways to relieve stress, boost physical activity, and lower high blood pressure, to help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease in the long run.

How Stretching Can Help

The biggest benefit of stretching for heart health is that it can help to significantly lower stress levels, which will stop many long-term health effects caused by chronic stress. When one is stressed out, the sympathetic nervous system is working too hard, which can cause inflammation and high blood pressure. By doing different stretching exercises  for your muscles, it helps to become more sensitive to insulin, which helps to control your blood sugar. Stretching activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which tells your body to relax and breathe, boosting cardiovascular health. This in turn can add to the benefits of a good diet and physical activity, making it easier to gain heart health. This reduction of stress and increase in breath will also help to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke. 

The Kika Method

At Kika Stretch Studios, we use The Kika Method, which is a fully assisted form of passive stretching. This is ideal for those looking to boost heart health, as it is the most relaxing and easy form of stretching out there. You would be able to just relax as the stretch coach gently stretches your entire body from head to toe, allowing you to focus on breathing which will lower blood pressure and heart rate. It has great cardiovascular benefits as it brings blood flow and breath to all muscle groups. In addition to all of this, the stretch coaches will modify the routine to fit the specific health needs of each client, so you are guaranteed maximum benefit from the session.

3 Heart Healthy Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises and physical activity is imperative to heart health and blood vessels. In order to keep yourself young and healthy, you should be pairing stretching with your exercise program, whether it is aerobic exercise, regular exercise, exercise for weight loss, or even flexibility exercises. These stretches will help with muscle soreness and relaxation, to aid in various types of exercise. Use exercise to warm up major muscle groups beforehand and then release any built-up tension with these stretches afterwards.

Yoga Ball Shoulder Opener

If you have poor posture, or are constantly hunched over your computer or phone, this stretch is great to open up your chest, and increase blood flow there. 

  1. Begin by sitting straight up, with the yoga ball resting behind your back and your legs extended straight out along the ground.
  2. Place your arms behind your head, interlacing your fingers and reaching your elbows out.
  3. Slowly lean back onto the ball, until your head and upper back are resting against it.
  4. Allow your elbows to fall open until you feel the stretch across your chest.
  5. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat.

Yoga Ball Runners Stretch

This stretch will open your hip flexors and quads, if you do a lot of exercise, walking, or even sit frequently. 

  1. Begin in a kneeling position, with the yoga ball in front of the right half of your body.
  2. Place both hands on the yoga ball and sit up on your knees. 
  3. Step your left leg forward, placing your knee over your foot.
  4. Imagine tucking your pelvis up, as you begin to shift your hips forward until you feel a stretch in your right hip.
  5. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. 

Lying Hamstring Stretch

If you have tight hamstrings, but can’t place your head below your heart for health reasons, this stretch is a great alternative to typical hamstring stretches.

  1. Begin by finding a wall that you can rest your legs against.
  2. Lay on the floor and place both feet on the wall above you.
  3. Move closer to the wall slowly, trying to get the back of your legs to rest fully against the wall.
  4. Stop when you feel a stretch, and slowly move closer to the wall as you feel ready.
  5. Hold this position for 30-second intervals, moving closer as you see fit. 

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