Leg stretching helps to prevent heart diseases and diabetes

A research published in the Journal of Physiology shows that 12 weeks of easy-to-administer passive stretching helps improve blood flow by making it easier for the arteries to dilate and decreasing their stiffness.

Researchers at the University of Milan assigned 39 healthy participants to two groups. The control group didn’t undergo any stretching. The experimental group performed leg stretches 5 times a week for 12 weeks. Researchers evaluated the effect of passive stretching on the blood flow locally and in the upper arm.  Passive stretching is different from active stretching — the former involves an external force (another person or gravity) stretching you, whereas active stretching is performed on your own. 

Researchers found that the arteries in both the lower leg and upper arm had increased blood flow and dilation when stimulated, along with decreased stiffness. These changes may have implications for diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes as these diseases are associated with changes in blood flow control due to an impaired vascular system.

Recognizing the benefit of stretching can be very relevant in the current pandemic period.  With the increased home confinement, stretching could be a useful choice of physical trainings to improve and prevent heart disease, stroke and other chronic conditions.

Thanks for reading.

Journal Reference:  A. V. Bisconti, E. Cè, S. Longo, M. Venturelli, G. Coratella, E. Limonta, C. Doria, S. Rampichini, F. Esposito. Evidence for improved systemic and local vascular function after long‐term passive static stretching training of the musculoskeletal systemThe Journal of Physiology, 2020; DOI: 10.1113/JP279866

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