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Passive stretching: The artery ‘workout’ that improves blood flow
Hands down, one of the best ways to avoid a heart attack or stroke is to keep your blood vessels healthy.
But that’s no small task…
You have roughly 100,000 miles of blood vessels and veins that make up your arterial superhighway to take care of… and much working against them.
The list of vascular diseases is long, from atherosclerosis to ischemia, peripheral artery disease to stenosis, lymphedema, chronic venous insufficiency, blood clots and aortic aneurysm to name a few.
Yet, when we think about ways to keep our blood pumping through that vast system, we generally think of things like diet (to avoid atherosclerosis and clots) or exercise (to avoid blood pressure problems, strokes and heart attack).
Now you can add the simple act of stretching to the list…
That’s because researchers from the University of Milan found that passive stretching has beneficial effects on arteries… enough, in fact, to improve blood flow.
But before you get started, you may want to read that again… passive stretching.
See, if you reach down to touch your toes, that’s an active stretch. But if you lay back and someone else presses your foot toward your shoulder to stretch your hamstrings, that qualifies as passive stretching.
Basically, someone else is doing the workout for your body, but you reap the benefits that research now shows includes increased blood flow and dilation, along with decreased stiffness of your all-important arteries — at least that’s what the researchers in Milan saw in their study group in as little as 12 weeks!
Could keeping your arteries in shape really be as easy as stretching?
No, it’s easier than that.
In other words, you don’t have to do the work. Even if you were confined to your bed, you could still get the benefits.
The researchers assigned 39 healthy participants of both sexes to two groups:
- A control group who didn’t stretch at all.
- An experimental group who had their legs stretched for them five times a week for those 12 weeks.
The passive stretching group only did leg stretches (or more specifically had leg stretches performed on them). Yet, their blood flow and blood vessel dilation and stiffness improved even in their upper arms. The benefits started in the legs and seemed to flow to other areas!
According to the researchers, both of these results may have implications for diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes which are characterized by changes in blood flow due to an impaired vascular system.
In fact, the research team was so impressed with the results that they think they may have found a new drug-free treatment to improve blood vessel health and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and possibly even stroke, especially in people with lower mobility.
Breathe out and stretch…
Now, are you ready to try the easiest way ever to keep your blood vessels in optimal shape to reduce the threats to your arteries and your health?
Simply lay back and let someone you feel comfortable with stretch your legs. And then return the favor — so you both can improve the elasticity of your arteries for healthier blood flow.
And if you don’t have a partner, don’t give up… try a supine leg stretch. Just lay on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Then put a towel around the back of your right thigh and hold each end with your hands. Extend your right leg a little and tighten your stomach muscles. Slowly use the towel to pull your right leg into your chest. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on your other leg.
And as long as we’re talking about easy ways to keep your vessels at their best, it would be a crime not to mention three powerful nutrients that encourage healthy circulation and blood vessel health including:
- Vitamin K2 — This amazing vitamin supports healthy blood flow and helps maintain blood pressure levels within a normal range.
- Grape Seed Extract — Heart-healthy polyphenols in grape seed extract promote nitric oxide to dilate your blood vessels and help support healthy blood flow.
- Pterostilbene — Packed with antioxidants from blueberries, pterostilbene promotes healthy circulation.