Stretching for Weight Loss

woman doing standing chest opener stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

If you've never considered stretching as part of your efforts to reach or maintain a balanced weight, you may want to. Especially if you don't do any flexibility or stretching exercises on a regular basis. Flexibility exercises help your body move more comfortably, which can encourage an increase in movement overall.

Increased daily movement also helps you balance your energy input and output, which is necessary for reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. Read more about the benefits of stretching for weight loss.

Benefits of Stretching for Weight Loss

The best thing about flexibility training is that you do not 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 trying to curb emotional eating.

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

Improved NEAT

Organized workouts are essential, but the calories you burn from NEAT significantly affect 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 are more likely to move more throughout the day if your joints and limbs feel good. This also can reduce joint pain and stiffness and help keep you active.

More Effective Workouts

Aerobic activity and strength training for weight loss are 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 spend less time recovering from injuries or soreness.

Increasing your range of motion also can help you activate more muscle fibers during your resistance training workout. This activation can potentially boost metabolically active muscle mass.

Calories Burned By Stretching

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

  • 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

You can do simple stretches when you get out of bed each morning or after you've done a cardio or strength training workout. 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. 

Consider these easy options. You can do this whole routine in about 10 minutes.

Full Body Roll

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Full body rolls will increase your spinal and hamstring flexibility and mobility.

  1. Stand tall and reach your arms toward the sky.
  2. Relax the arms and roll the spine down.
  3. Let your arms relax towards the floor.
  4. Keep the knees bent to protect your back.
  5. Hold the position (but continue to breathe!) for 5 to 15 seconds, then slowly roll back up and repeat. 

Crescent Moon Stretches

Crescent Moon Stretch
Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Crescent moon stretches, or side bends, are great for stretching your back, core, and hips.

  1. Reach your arms over your head and 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.
  2. Stay in the stretch on each side for 10 to 15 seconds.

Neck and Shoulder Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Your neck and shoulders can become stiff and tight from sitting. Try stretching them often to feel more limber and move better during workouts.

  1. Get in a seated or standing position and gently tilt your chin toward your chest and feel a gentle release in the back of the neck.
  2. Roll the head to the left and right slowly and carefully to stretch the sides of the neck. You may feel the stretch into the top of each shoulder.
  3. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, then repeat.

Chest Opener 

Chest Opener
Verywell / Ben Goldstein

If you sit a lot during the day, your chest can become tight and weak. Try chest openers to help counteract these effects.

  1. Get in a seated or standing position and clasp your hands together behind your back.
  2. Feel the front of the chest open and stretch.
  3. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, then repeat.

Hip and Inner Thigh Stretch

Hip and Inner Thigh Stretch
Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Stretching your hips and inner thighs can likely improve your squat performance and counteract the effects of tight hips from sitting.

  1. Get in a seated position and bring the soles of your feet together in front of your body so that your legs form a diamond shape.
  2. Keep your spine long and tilt forward from the hips, bringing your chest closer to the floor. It's normal if you can't bend very far.
  3. Remember to keep breathing as you hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.

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 will benefit from a healthier body that feels good. When your body feels good you are more likely to move more often, burn more calories, and improve your chances of weight loss.

4 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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By Malia Frey, M.A., ACE-CHC, CPT
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.