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There are four main measures of overall fitness: aerobic, muscular, body composition and flexibility. Every athlete is strong in one area but may need some more work in another. One commonly forgotten portion of fitness is flexibility which can be increased by stretching. Many people do not realize how inflexible they really are. Most people only operate in about 60% of the range of motion in their hips and shoulders and many injuries are caused by the lack of range of motion. Many weight lifters are able to raise their maximum weight lifted simply by increasing their flexibility. The American Heart Association suggests that older adults should stretch in order to preserve the range of motion needed to perform daily activities. It is also recommended healthy adults stretch major muscle and tendon groups two to three days a week.
While some studies disagree on the benefits of stretching and if stretching can prevent injury or not, many people still believe that increased flexibility can benefit more than just their athletic performance. Some studies have shown that stretching can benefit your health in multiple areas.
While many experts will have different opinions on the benefits of stretching, the fact still remains that stretching has many benefits outside of athletic performance and injury prevention. Increased flexibility can benefit many parts of your daily life and alleviate stress and pain. Flexibility is still a component of fitness and should not be underestimated for its necessity and benefits.