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What are FITT guidelines for stretching?

Frequency: Stretching should be performed 5-7 times a week

Intensity: Stretches should be held until a mild discomfort is felt in muscle or joint

Type: Stretching can include self myofascial release, static stretching, dynamic stretching, and active isolated stretching

Time: Stretches should be performed for 30 seconds per muscle group
The FITT acronym can remind you to slightly alter the Frequency, Intensity, Time (duration), and Type of exercise you do, as you are able, to steadily improve your physical fitness.
Stretching is one of three main types of exercise. (The other two are cardiovascular aerobic exercise and strength training.) Lengthening your muscles by stretching helps you become more limber, which makes certain activities of daily living easier. Plus, the improved flexibility gained from stretching regularly helps you prevent injuries when you are performing everyday body movements and especially during exercise. Stretching also reduces muscle tension, increases circulation, and improves posture. These FITT guidelines can help you stay on track for fitness in the stretching component of your overall exercise plan.
Stretching FITT guidelines:
  • Frequency: Aim for 5 times per week, or whenever you do “cardio” (cardiovascular aerobic exercise). It’s best to stretch right after your cardio cool down period, when muscles are warm with increased blood flow. Do not exercise before warm up.
  • Intensity: Perform each stretch with slow, steady movement without bouncing or locking your joints, which can cause injury. Stretch just to the point of mild discomfort, stopping before the stretch becomes painful.
  • Time: Stretch for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Hold each stretch for about 15 seconds. Repeat as necessary, according to what feels good.
  • Type: yoga, Pilates, or other stretches, including knee-to-chest stretch, calf stretch, triceps stretch, etc.
Don’t forget to add cardiovascular aerobic exercise and strength training to your exercise program as well. Also remember, you should discuss your exercise plan and fitness goals with your physician before you begin.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.