Stretching for Weight Loss

woman doing standing chest opener stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Would you ever consider doing stretching for weight loss? Do you do any flexibility or stretching exercises on a regular basis? If you are trying to lose weight, you should. Flexibility exercises are not big calorie burners, but they help your body to move more comfortably, which can encourage an increase in movement. Increased daily movement plays an important role in a weight loss program.

Benefits of Stretching for Weight Loss

The best thing about flexibility training is that you don't have to do it very often or for very long to enjoy the benefits. Just a few minutes of stretching each day will help to improve the range of motion in your joints, may help to decrease the risk of injury during exercise, and can reduce stress.

Consistency is important to boost your flexibility. But even if you participate in a stretching program two or three times per week, your body will feel better.

Even though you won't burn mega calories during a short stretching session, your body functions better when your joints move more comfortably. This can improve your weight loss program in several different ways.

Decreased Stress

Flexibility exercises help to get your blood pumping, but not in a way that increases your adrenaline. Stretching and breathing exercises help to improve your mood and lower your stress level. This may be especially helpful for people who are trying to curb emotional eating. If you can replace the trip to the refrigerator with five minutes of healthy stretching, you're likely to eat less and lose weight faster.

Improved NEAT

Organized workouts are important, but the calories you burn from NEAT play a big role in the total number of calories you burn each day. NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis and it includes all of your activity throughout the day that is not exercise: walking to your car in the parking lot, lifting groceries, shoveling the sidewalk, and other typical movements.

You're more likely to move more throughout the day if your joints and limbs feel good. Stretching helps to keep you active.

More Effective Workouts

Aerobic activity and strength training for weight loss is more effective when you perform each exercise fully. Stretching helps keep your body in top shape so that you burn more calories during your workouts and you spend less time recovering from injuries or soreness.

Calories Burned By Stretching

Stretching doesn't burn a lot of calories. For maximum caloric expenditure, you should consider higher intensity activities like jogging, interval training, or even walking. But stretching does burn a few extra calories.

  • A 125-pound person burns about 70 calories performing a 30-minute stretching routine (or about 28 calories sitting quietly for 30 minutes).
  • A 150-pound person burns about 85 calories performing a 30-minute stretching routine (34 calories when sitting).
  • A 200-pound person burns about 113 calories performing a 30-minute stretching routine (45 calories when sitting).

Sample Stretching Routine

So what flexibility exercises should you do? You can do simple stretches when you get out of bed each morning, or after you've done a cardio or strength training workout. Consider these easy options. You can do this whole routine in about 10 minutes.

Verywell / Ben Goldstein
  • Full body roll. Stand tall and reach your arms towards the sky. Then relax the arms and roll the spine down. Let your arms relax towards the floor. Keep the knees bent to protect your back. Hold the position (but continue to breathe!) for 5 to 15 seconds, then slowly roll back up and repeat. 
Crescent Moon Stretch
Verywell / Ben Goldstein
  • Crescent moon stretches. Reaching the arms over your head, gently curve the body into the shape of a C (or a crescent moon) by bending the body to the left and then to the right. Stay in the stretch on each side for 10 to 15 seconds.
Verywell / Ben Goldstein
  • Neck and shoulder stretches. In a seated or standing position, gently tilt the chin towards your chest and feel a gentle release in the back of the neck. Then slowly and carefully roll the head to the left and to the right to stretch the sides of the neck. You may feel the stretch into the top of each shoulder.
Chest Opener
Verywell / Ben Goldstein
  • Chest opener. In a seated or standing position, clasp the hands together behind your back. Feel the front of the chest open and stretch. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, then repeat.
Hip and Inner Thigh Stretch
Verywell / Ben Goldstein
  • Hip and inner thigh stretch. In a seated position, bring the soles of the feet together in front of your body so that your legs form a diamond shape. Keeping the spine long, tilt forward from the hips, bringing your chest closer to the floor. It's normal if you can't bend very far. Remember to keep breathing as you hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.

These stretches will help to loosen up your joints and start your day with healthy movement. You might also choose to do these stretches at your desk while you are at work. 

If you have time at lunch or before or after work, you can also take a yoga class to stretch and lose weight, or learn the practice of tai chi to improve your health. Both of these mind/body practices help to improve flexibility and reduce stress.

A Word From Verywell

Flexibility training alone won't burn enough calories to make a big difference in your daily energy balance. But when you pair stretching exercises with a complete workout program, you'll benefit from a healthier body that feels good. When your body feels good you're more likely to move more often, burn more calories, and improve your chances of weight loss.

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3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Stults-Kolehmainen MA, Sinha R. The effects of stress on physical activity and exercise. Sports Med. 2014;44(1):81-121. doi:10.1007/s40279-013-0090-5

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