Dear Fun and Fit: I’ve been told that stretching after a workout of strength training keeps your metabolism running longer. If that’s true, how long should I be stretching to get the good stuff going? In all the time I’ve been going to the gym, I’ve never seen anyone stretch after lifting. — Mary, Holland, Mich.
Alexandra: Ah, Mary Mary Mary, you have inadvertently asked several questions! Stretching is excellent post-workout (not pre-workout) as it:
» increases range of motion about a joint or group of joints
» may elicit positive long-term performance outcomes
» enhances flexibility (intrinsic property of muscles and joints to go through full or optimal range of motion)
» is an effective intervention for prevention of falls
» assists in more effective performance of daily living activities
(Sources: Thacker et al. 2004; Safran et al. 1988; Woods, Bishop & Jones 2007; Kerrigan et al. 2001; and Misner et al. 1992.)
That is my diplomatic way of saying that stretching after your workout makes you healthy, wealthy and wise, but doesn’t have a link to an increased metabolic rate. And I am going to make a wild leap into the Abyss of Assumption here and say you are looking to burn calories at a higher rate for a longer time? If so, read this post on not bulking up and calorie burning. It will show how smart you are for doing strength training!
Kymberly: More good news about boosting your metabolic rate with exercise: A recent article shared that women who did 40 minutes of cardio exercise at 80 percent of maximum heart rate (fairly intense but not exceedingly so) increased their caloric expenditure for the next 19 hours. So both weight training and cardio workouts metabolically zoom you up afterward. Sort of the caffeine of the workout world, eh? Whoa doggies, that’s pretty exciting stuff!
A: Is it possible you heard the water-cooler discussions about high-intensity interval training, increased metabolic rate and stretching? If so, that is referring to the recovery or “corrective” stretching that comes between short, intense bursts of cardio activity. But that’s not strength training, and the metabolic effect is from the cardio bursts.
K: As to why people do not stretch after weight training, we can only surmise that it’s a lack of education sometimes disguised in their minds as lack of time. Saying they’re “flexibility losers” is just not in us. We can say we found nada, zip, bupkus about stretching helping metabolic rate. (Actually I can say Alexandra found nothing as she did all the research work this time around. Go twin sissie! I was busy watching Major League Soccer on TV. And the players did stretch afterward. Go soccer!) We do advocate relengthening muscles shortened in training. And we’ve covered how to increase metabolic rate post workout. That’s a wrap here at F and F!
A: I think I’ll just get bossy and tell you to keep stretching cuz it’s good for ya, and keep at the strength training for the same reason — full of fruit-flavored goodness.
K: Lastly, check out our post “Stretch It or Be Wretched.” Then when you do your stretches post-workout, stare at the others as if you are superior and know something they don’t — cuz it’s probably true.
Readers: Psssssst, do you like research statistics? If so, in six months of continuous participation in resistance exercise, you can convince your resting metabolic rate (RMR) to increase and burn about 100 calories extra per day. Pump me up!
— Identical twins and fitness pros Kymberly Williams-Evans and Alexandra Williams have been in the fitness industry since the first aerobics studio opened on the European continent. They teach, write, edit, emcee and present their programs worldwide on land, sea and airwaves. They co-write Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A. You can currently find them in action leading classes in Santa Barbara and Goleta. Kymberly is the former faculty minor adviser at UCSB for its fitness instruction degree offered through the Department of Exercise & Sport Studies; Alexandra serves as an instructor and master teacher for the program. Fun and Fit answers real questions from real people, so please send your comments and questions to email@example.com.