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Stretching is one part of exercise that often gets neglected. It’s something that should be done both before and after working out to loosen up your muscles and help heal muscle soreness. But, the practice has a lot of added benefits, which may be part of the reason why yoga is so popular. Whether you choose to practice yoga, use a foam roller or other tools, or simply stretch the old fashioned way, any practice of releasing tension in your muscles will prove beneficial. Below are five benefits you’ll notice once you incorporate regular stretching into your routine.

Decreased stress
Stretching is a time to unwind and reflect on your workout and day. It can be used as a time of meditation where you focus on your breathing and how your body feels. Setting aside ten minutes of your day to stretch out your body will help you to feel less stressed. Stretching regularly reduces mental tension, and when done in combination with mindful breathing, it can help reduce anxiety and depression.

Reduced muscle pain and stiffness
Stretching out your muscles, especially after a tough workout, helps to prevent muscle soreness. Stretching helps to work out the knots in your muscles and breaks down the lactic acid in your joints. You can also use a foam roller to help ease muscle pain after exercising.

Increased flexibility
Over time, regular stretching will help you to become more flexible. Greater flexibility helps to prevent further muscle strain and aids you in performing many daily tasks. Greater flexibility also leads to improved blood flow and circulation. Just be aware that becoming super flexible isn’t something that will happen overnight. It may take months of regular stretching before you start to notice any type of difference.

Less wear and tear on joints
Having chronically tight muscles means the opposing muscles become weaker, which means other joint structures in the body become strained. Stretching regularly helps make sure that both muscles on a joint have an equal degree of pull so the joint can move freely in all directions.

Better quality of life
Regular stretching helps to keep both the mind and the body young. Physical exercise is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle that comes with numerous benefits. Stretching is also a component of that. Stretching will help you enjoy an active lifestyle as you grow older and ensure you can enjoy the same activities you did when you were younger.