There is a constant argument as to whether stretching before a workout is beneficial or not. Regardless of anyone’s opinion on that never-ending debate, stretching is good for the body, even when it stands alone. Stretching doesn’t have to be preparation for a run, or a post-workout ritual. It can be done at anytime of day, by anyone and has plenty of benefits. Here are just five reasons to incorporate stretching into your daily routine.

Wake up

Wake up each muscle in your body with a relaxing stretch session first thing in the morning.

Stretching increases blood flow not only to the targeted muscle, but the entire body. Loosening your lower back supplies the brain and heart with oxygen. Your whole body will feel better and you will feel more awake.

Increase flexibility

Ligaments and joints as well as muscles play a role in flexibility. Stretching lengthens muscle fibers, but doesn’t actually lengthen the muscle permanently. Increased flexibility comes from increasing tolerance in nerve endings. Pain that occurs while lengthening a muscle is the body warning you not to damage the muscle. As you find yourself deepening a stretch overtime, you’re actually just retraining the nerve endings.

Prevent or repair injury

This is the main reason people choose to stretch before a workout. Stretching ‘warms up’ the muscles, lowering the odds of the muscle being damaged during the workout. Even if preparing for a day at work instead of a run, warming up a frequently used muscle can help prevent injury.

Stretching a muscle that was injured, or near a part of the body that was injured can help the body recover. Ask a doctor what stretches are safe and work for you.

Convenient and customizable

Stretch anywhere, anytime. Do it at home, in the park, or even at work. No equipment is necessary and you can pick and choose what you focus on and how long you do it for. If you have ten minutes one day and thirty minutes the next, it’s not a big deal. Even stretch while taking a call or on lunch break.

Relax

Getting a few minutes of the day alone to think is rare. Find a quiet space and shut out the stress and mental noise of life. Even if it’s for a few minutes, relax body and mind with a slow stretch of the major muscles. This can be a good thing to do before heading to bed. Your mind won’t be racing and your body will be relaxed and ready to sleep.

Always remember to stretch evenly. Don’t focus on one side even if it feels tighter than the other. Stretching should be fluid and smooth. Don’t bounce. Also, holding a stretch for thirty seconds may not always be enough. If you have the time, hold for a minute or even longer.