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The most often overlooked component of a well-balanced exercise routine is flexibility and stretching. Stretching might seem a “boring” or time-consuming aspect of your carefully allotted workout schedule. What most women forget is that stretching lengthens muscle tissue, which makes it easier for your body to adjust to the strain of your exercise. Stretching is a key component in preventing injury. Stretching improves your range of motion and flexibility, which will allow you to be more agile and limber for your exercise program. Improved range of motion will help with coordination. Stretching improves your circulation by increasing the blood flow to your muscles, which can also shorten your recovery time after any exercise-related injuries. You should incorporate at least a few minutes of stretching before and after your exercise, focusing on any muscle groups you worked out that day. If you still have a hard time getting used to stretching, think of it as “down time”—a period of your day when you can relax and pay some attention to your body. If nothing else, stretching a sore or overworked muscle feels good.

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