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Health Benefits of Flexibility Training

Health Benefits of Flexibility Training
by J. R. Workman 

Flexibility exercises have a multitude of benefits for your health. They can lower blood pressure and decrease cholesterol levels, make your arteries and veins looser and healthier, reduce your chances of contracting injuries, get rid of muscular and joint pain, lessen inflammation, make your body more functional and athletic, help you improve your balance, and so much more. In this article we will address several of the outstanding health benefits of engaging in regular flexibility training. 

"It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable." ― Socrates, Xenophon, Memorabilia

Health Benefits of Flexibility Training 

Loosens Arteries & Reduces Blood Pressure 

Stretching promotes artery and vein health and lowers blood pressure by loosening up the blood vessels in your body and making them more efficient. This makes a lot of sense when you think about it since high blood pressure is heavily associated with obesity, stiffness, tension, lack of flexibility, etc. So it should come as no surprise that flexibility training helps improve and moderate blood pressure:

"Elastic blood vessels help moderate blood pressure. Not surprisingly, then, researchers found that those who could not reach to or beyond their toes in the sit-and-stretch test were more likely than their flexible peers to have higher systolic blood pressure -- the peak pressure reading taken as the heart contracts." (Stretching Good for Your Arteries by Melissa Healy)

According to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology titled Poor trunk flexibility is associated with arterial stiffening people over the age of 40 with greater trunk flexibility (the amount of flexibility present when bending at the waist) have lower blood pressure and healthier arteries

"Flexibility is one of the components of physical fitness as well as cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength and endurance. Flexibility has long been considered a major component in the preventive treatment of musculotendinous strains. The present study investigated a new aspect of flexibility. Using a cross-sectional study design, we tested the hypothesis that a less flexible body would have arterial stiffening. A total of 526 adults, 20 to 39 yr of age (young), 40 to 59 yr of age (middle-aged), and 60 to 83 yr of age (older), participated in this study. Subjects in each age category were divided into either poor- or high-flexibility groups on the basis of a sit-and-reach test. Arterial stiffness was assessed by brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV). Two-way ANOVA indicated a significant interaction between age and flexibility in determining baPWV (P < 0.01). In middle-aged and older subjects, baPWV was higher in poor-flexibility than in high-flexibility groups (middle-aged, 1,260 ± 141 vs. 1,200 ± 124 cm/s, P < 0.01; and older, 1,485 ± 224 vs. 1,384 ± 199 cm/s, P < 0.01). In young subjects, there was no significant difference between the two flexibility groups. A stepwise multiple-regression analysis (n = 316) revealed that among the components of fitness (cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, and flexibility) and age, all components and age were independent correlates of baPWV. These findings suggest that flexibility may be a predictor of arterial stiffening, independent of other components of fitness." (Poor Trunk Flexibility Is Associated with Arterial Stiffening by Kenta Yamamoto et al)

Healthy diet and exercise changes are often much more satisfying alternatives than many blood pressure medications are for treating high blood pressure levels due to the uncomfortable side effects that some of these medications have that can sometimes burden you more than they relieve you:

"Some common side effects of high blood pressure medicines include: Cough Diarrhea or constipation Dizziness or lightheadedness ...Feeling nervous Feeling tired, weak, drowsy, or a lack of energy Headache Nausea or vomiting Skin rash Weight loss or gain without trying" (High Blood Pressure Medicines) 

Always consult your primary care provider regarding diet and exercise as possible alternatives before beginning any medications. 

Lowers Cholesterol Levels

Flexibility exercises lower cholesterol levels. Due to making blood vessels looser and moderating blood pressure/improving blood flow, flexibility training helps to remove plaque, toxins, and other harmful chemicals in the body/bloodstream (such as excess amounts of cholesterol) which in turn aids in lowering cholesterol levels:

"Consider trying a combination of these forms of exercises to improve your cholesterol status: ...Flexibility exercises: These are an integral part of all good exercise programmes and should be done after each workout. The key to controlling your cholesterol is to maintain the intensity of the exercise." (High Cholesterol: Lower it with These Exercises by Jaclyn Lim)

Blood pressure and cholesterol levels have been linked/connected. When one is compromised usually the other one is too:

"A later study, published in the Journal of Hypertension, found similar results. Researchers analyzed data from 4,680 participants aged 40 to 59 years from 17 different areas in Japan, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States. They looked at blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and diet over the previous 24 hours. The results showed that cholesterol was directly related to blood pressure for all participants." (What’s the Connection Between High Blood Cholesterol and Hypertension? by Colleen Story)

Engaging in physical exercise and implementing a more nutritious diet are much healthier alternatives to lowering cholesterol levels than taking dangerous cholesterol medications with numerous risky side effects are. Medications are often used by people who are too slothful to treat their medical problems with diet and exercise alone. If diet and exercise changes are an option for treatment then they should almost always be preferred to medications because they are more natural and do not have the unwanted side effects on the body that many medications do. Medications should only be used when absolutely necessary for treatment or when unsafe risks are minimal. Some side effects of cholesterol medications are particularly serious/concerning and include liver damage and type 2 diabetes among other grave medical problems: 

"Statins are a common cholesterol medicine, but for some people they can cause severe side effects like muscle damage, dark-colored urine, liver damage, increased blood sugar or type 2 diabetes, and memory loss or confusion. ...Your doctor may test your liver while you take statins to see if you’re having liver problems. Muscle pain is the problem people on statins report most often." (12 Common Side Effects of Cholesterol Drugs)

For many people, incorporating fitness exercises and a wholesome diet into their daily lives will be much more fulfilling and gratifying than taking harmful medications. 

Diminishes Inflammation 

Flexibility training diminishes inflammation in our muscles and connective tissues by boosting our body's circulation. This is also one of the reasons why stretching reduces joint and muscular pain:

"Benefits of Stretching for Inflammation When you are using your muscles, a small amount of damage occurs in the fibers of the muscle. The more intense the exercise, the more damage occurs. Inflammation develops as your body does the necessary repairs to the muscles. If you are staying sore after exercise, you may not be taking enough time between vigorous workouts. Only return to intense exercise after the soreness and inflammation are gone. Stretching helps to increase blood flow and nutrition, reducing soreness and speeding recovery." (Stretches to Reduce Muscle Inflammation by Greg Cooper)

A 2015 study indicated that stretching helps to resolve inflammation going on inside of connective tissues: 

"...stretching for 10 minutes twice daily reduced inflammation and improved pain, two weeks after carrageenan injection." (Stretching Impacts Inflammation Resolution in Connective Tissue by Lisbeth Berrueta Et Al)

Stretching is lucrative to complete both before and after a workout session because it can assist in loosening up the body's muscles before a workout and also aid in cooling the muscles back down afterwards, preventing injuries in both cases and quickening recovery in the latter. 

Makes the Day Easier

Becoming more flexible aids in functionality, it will help you with sports and other day-to-day actives such as yard work or getting morning tasks done more efficiently:

"Activities that lengthen and stretch muscles can help you prevent injuries, back pain, and balance problems. A well-stretched muscle more easily achieves its full range of motion. This improves athletic performance — imagine an easier, less restricted golf swing or tennis serve — and functional abilities, such as reaching, bending, or stooping during daily tasks. Stretching can also be a great way to get you moving in the morning or a way to relax after a long day." (Benefits of Flexibility Exercises)

Who could not benefit from some extra agility and mobility throughout the day?

Decreased Injury Risk 

Flexibility training can help prevent future injuries:

"Once you develop strength and flexibility in your body you’ll be able to withstand more physical stress. Plus, you’ll rid your body of any muscle imbalances, which will reduce your chance of getting injured during physical activity. Correcting muscle imbalances requires a combination of strengthening the underactive muscles and stretching the overactive (tight) ones." (Why Being Flexible Is Great for Your Health by Emily Cronkleton)

Having a lower chance of injury makes every physical activity safer and more enjoyable. It allows you to maneuver through life with confidence and far less fear/anxiety.

Pain Reduction

Becoming more flexible will reduce pains and aches in certain areas of your body:

"Your body is likely to feel better overall once you work on lengthening and opening your muscles. When your muscles are looser and less tense, you’ll experience fewer aches and pains. Plus, you may be less likely to experience muscle cramps." (Why Being Flexible Is Great for Your Health by Emily Cronkleton)

Stretching is a common and effective pain reliever for many different types of pain (joint, muscular, etc.). It requires no medications to work successfully and can be done almost anywhere. It is one of the most convenient and natural pain remedies in existence.

Read my articles on health:

Read my articles on conditioning:

Healy, Melissa. “Stretching Good for Your Arteries.”, 25 Apr. 2010,

Yamamoto, K, et al. “Poor Trunk Flexibility Is Associated with Arterial Stiffening.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, PubMed, Oct. 2009,

“High Blood Pressure Medicines.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine,

Lim, Jaclyn. “High Cholesterol: Lower It with These Exercises​.” HealthXchange, SingHealth,

Story, Colleen. “What’s the Connection Between High Blood Cholesterol and Hypertension?” Healthline Media, 17 Apr. 2017,

“12 Common Side Effects of Cholesterol Drugs.” WebMD, WebMD,

“Stretches to Reduce Muscle Inflammation.” Healthfully, 2011,

Berrueta, Lisbeth et al. “Stretching Impacts Inflammation Resolution in Connective Tissue” Journal of cellular physiology vol. 231,7 (2015): 1621-7.

“Benefits of Flexibility Exercises.” Harvard Health Blog, Harvard Health Publishing,

Cronkleton, Emily. “Benefits of Flexibility: 6 Advantages and Stretches.” Healthline, Healthline Media,