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Leading fitness researcher Dr. Wayne Wescott, director of fitness research at the South Shore Y.M.C.A. in Braintree, Mass., has settled a long-time controvery in the fitness industry: stretching can actually make you significantly stronger.


For years, many weight lifters believed that somehow stretching would impede their progress building muscle mass.


In a 10-week study of 53 regular exercisers, Dr. Wescott asked each person to work out on 13 standard weight training machines. After each exercise, one group stretched the muscles just used before moving to the next machine. A second group moved from machine to machine, then followed with a separate session of six stretching exercises. The third group did no flexibility training at all.


After 10 weeks, all participants became both stronger and more flexible.


What surprised the researchers was that the subjects who stretched also showed marked increases in strength – 37 percent and 54 percent differences compared with 29 percent. The most significant gains were exhibited by the group that stretched after completing the strength-training circuit.


“Everybody pays lip service to stretching,” Dr. Wescott told The New York Times, “but for most exercisers, myself included, stretching is the first thing to go.” As a result of his study, Dr. Wescott said he stretches more regularly.


Consider this also: The American Council on Exercise says that the No. 1 mistake made in the gym is failing to stop and stretch.


Three different studies of golfers showed that those who stretched along with their weight training were able to increase club head speed an average of 5.2 miles per hour – twice as much as those who did strength training alone. In terms of golf, “The authors felt that stretching doubled the results,“ Wescott said.


To Lower Your Fat Intake, Lower Your Stress Level


A recent study at Yale University proved what I have been advising my clients for some time: If you are serious about losing weight, lower your stress level.


Researchers Kelly Brownell and Elissa Epel told the Society of Behavioral Medicine that women who are exposed to high stress situations end up eating more fat.


In the study they performed, 60 women were exposed to 45 minutes of deliberately stressful tasks, then allowed to snack without restriction.


The more stress hormones rose, the more high-fat snacks they ate.

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