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Global Network
Ever Green / Ever Healthy 
April 2008
Topic: Lifestyle

Stretching Made Easy

by the American Institute for Cancer Research

Stretching is important, especially if you’ve been sitting at a desk all day. It benefits your muscles and blood circulation and helps to relax your muscles after doing another physical activity like walking. Thirty minutes of moderate physical activity such as brisk walking helps reduce cancer risk, according to AICR’s Second Expert Report.

One way to ease into some healthy stretches is by using props for stability and comfort. Common objects like a belt or straight-backed chairs can all be used effectively, even at the office.

When you do these stretches, remember not to go beyond the point where you can no longer comfortably inhale or exhale, or to where you feel any pain. Be sure to ask your doctor about these stretching exercises before doing them on your own. Also, when you are trying to stretch further, don’t bounce or rock your body into the position, which may cause injury.

Seated Forward Bend with Belt

This exercise can be done seated on the floor or on a straight-backed chair facing another straight-backed chair next to the wall. Place your right foot on the chair facing you so that your right leg is straight. Flex your right foot and place the center of the belt around the ball of the foot, gently pulling the ends toward you. Keep your leg straight and bend forward as you pull. Feel the stretch behind your knee. With each exhalation, try to bend a little further forward, always keeping your right leg as straight as possible. After five breaths, change legs and repeat the stretch.

Arm and Back Stretch

Sit on a straight-backed chair. Holding a belt (or rolled-up towel) in the right hand, inhale and extend the right arm upwards letting the belt dangle behind you. Exhale and bend the right arm at the elbow. Push the left shoulder back as you reach around to grasp the end of the belt with your left hand. Inch hands closer together while holding the strap and keeping your spine straight. Do not crunch your head and neck forward. Take five breaths and switch arms. If you practice this exercise, your hands should gradually be able to come closer to each other in back of you.

Thigh Stretch

Sit in a straight-backed chair with your back straight. Cross your right ankle over your left knee. Lean forward, keeping your back straight, until you feel a stretch in your right thigh. Hold for 30 seconds. Release and lower right leg, then repeat with left leg. Repeat each side 3 times.

Foot and Ankle Stretch

Stand in back of a straight-backed chair with your hands lightly resting on the top for balance. In bare feet or wearing rubber-soled shoes, gently rise up on your toes and hold for 5-10 seconds. Slowly lower yourself down. With your weight on your heels, lift the balls of your feet off the floor, raising your toes. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat these stretches 10 times, twice each day.


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The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, AICR is part of the global network of charities that are dedicated to the prevention of cancer. The WCRF global network is led and unified by WCRF International, a membership association that operates as the umbrella organization for the network. The other charities in the WCRF network are World Cancer Research Fund in the UK (; Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds in the Netherlands (; World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong (; and Fonds Mondial de Recherche contre le Cancer in France (

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