There are many benefits to staying physically active, one of which is maintaining flexibility. According to one 2018 study published in The Lancet,1 the percentage of people with insufficient levels of activity remained stable from 2001 to 2016, measuring roughly 28.5% across the world. The highest prevalence of inactivity was in high-income Western countries, which measured at 42.3% using data from 358 surveys across 168 countries and including 1.9 million participants.
According to data from the CDC,2 information from 2017 through 2020 showed the overall prevalence of inactivity was 25.3% across the U.S. However, while this was the overall prevalence, the CDC then broke down the information by location, race and ethnicity. According to the January 2022 map, there were seven states in which the level of inactivity was 30% or greater, and there were no states in which inactivity was less than 15%.
When levels of inactivity are this high, it’s also likely that people’s flexibility has been negatively impacted. Sitting at a computer all day can stretch the muscles in the upper back and shorten the chest muscles, leading to hunched shoulders and upper back pain.3 This is called upper crossed syndrome (UCS).
This is just one challenge that results from shortened muscles that negatively affects joints and increases pain. Before jumping into a stretching program, let’s discover exactly what makes you flexible and then take a simple test to determine how flexible you are now.