Prepare for a Walk or Workout With Some Quick and Convenient Stretching

A woman stretches happily on a couch as a cat sleeps on a rug beneath her.


Instructor Ashley Patten demonstrates an easy routine featuring a prop you definitely have lying around your house.

Theoretically, everyone who’s ever had a middle school gym coach knows that stretching is important. However, it’s one of those activities that’s so simple, we often forget to devote much time to it. As we juggle work, meal prep, shopping, family time, travel, and the zillions of other little (and big) activities that take up our days, stretching can easily be lost in the shuffle.

As a gentle refresher, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends two to three stretching sessions per week — or daily stretching, if you can squeeze it into your busy schedule. Not only does stretching feel good (and maybe that’s reason enough to do it!) but it also has many health benefits. Stretching aids “performance in physical activities,” increases flexibility and muscle blood flow, and improves your ability to do daily activities. It’s also very important to stretch after exercise — not just beforehand. Stretching also prevents the risk of muscle pain or damage and joint pain.

And let’s not forget that stretching is a mellow exercise that doesn’t require a lot of time or space. If you want to get moving but feel overwhelmed by the intensity of athletics, go easy on yourself and start out with some simple stretches.

And to make things even more approachable, we’ve got a short video tutorial on deck. Once again, Katie’s pilates instructor Ashley Patten is here to demonstrate a safe and effective exercise routine. She says that this class is extra accessible because you’ll use a hand towel as a tool to deepen your stretches: “You’ll find a hand towel likely wherever you are” so these stretches are “perfect for summer travel.” Katie is definitely a fan: Ashley reports that “this is probably Katie’s number one requested series” because the towel is an easy prop to find while Katie is on the road.

Oh, and if you finish this set and feel like you’re just getting started, we have some more helpful routines to stretch your feet, hips, and spine. Perfect for those of us who need to loosen up a little.