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by Bob Anderson

One of the most powerful anti-aging tools you can have in your health arsenal is flexibility. There are a number of different ways to gain - or remain - flexible for a lifetime. The most popular these days are Yoga and Pilates, but it all really boils down to one simple thing: stretching. Even if you've never seen the inside of a Yoga studio, and never plan to, you still stretch occasionally. And, if you want your muscles to remain supple and your joints to stay fluid, you need to learn good stretching techniques. That's where Bob Anderson's classic book comes in. There are a number of stretching books out there; Anderson's is one of the easiest to use and comprehend.

Stretching first came out in 1980, which was virtually the dark ages of the fitness industry. Jogging and racquetball were the preferred aerobic activities. Weight training was still the arena of bodybuilders and little old ladies dared not venture near a dumbbell. Snowboarding and inline skating wouldn't attain mainstream popularity for many years, and Yoga was for post-hippie burnouts. Anderson's book wasn't meant to be innovative or revolutionary. It was just an excellent, comprehensive guide to proper static stretching, with simple but effective drawings that showed both the stretches and the muscle areas where the stretch should be felt. Included were dozens of stretch routines for every situation and quite a few sports - morning stretches, stretches for those over 50, stretches to relieve lower back tension, stretches for hiking, golf, running, wrestling and more. Over the years, Anderson's untrendy, down-to-earth book sold three million copies and enhanced many lives.

Fortunately, not a whole lot has changed in the latest edition of Stretching. Some of the drawings (done by Anderson's wife, Jean) have been updated. Some new routines have been added, including stretches for the aforementioned snowboarding and inline skating. Everyone who is interested in staying fit should have a copy of this book. Even Yoga and Pilates enthusiasts. You don't spend your day doing nothing but Yoga or Pilates, after all - you also walk, sit, drive a car and dozens of other activities. Anderson offers quick, everyday stretches to relax your muscles in conjunction with any and all activities. His book makes it easy to fit in a few stretches at any time, anywhere. Keep doing those stretches over a lifetime and the benefits will add up.

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