Looking to limber up? Along with cardiovascular exercise and strength building, flexibility is one of the three pillars of physical fitness. along with cardiovascular exercise and strength building. Unfortunately, it's often ignored in favor of the other two pillars. People may skip out on flexibility training for any number of reasons, including time commitment and sheer confusion about how best to processed. Unfortunately, this can lead to injury - as if you're not suitably flexible, you can easily pull or even tear a muscle while doing regular activity.

If you do strength or cardio exercises beyond a normal level of physical activity, it's even more important to be properly flexible. Not only will increasing your range of motion reduce your risk of injury, it may also improve your performance overall. Here's how to make flexibility a priority:

Create measurable goals

"Flexibility can be a little nebulous."

When it comes to cardio and strength training, it's fairly easy to craft specific goals. The exercises tend to create their own goalposts - you may decided to build your cardio endurance high enough to run a specific race, or you might want to build your strength until you can lift X weight. Flexibility, however, can be a little more nebulous. Goals tend to be based mostly around reaching points that may seem useful, but can actually be fairly arbitrary. For example, lets say two people both wanted to become flexible enough to touch their toes. However, each has different limb lengths and starting flexibility. As a result, one person might reach his or her toes fairly quickly and the other might take longer - however, the person with an easy time of it might not be getting much out of the workout.

Though goals like "touch my toes" are a good place to start, be sure to consider where you began. Any progress toward your goal is good, even if it's not as fast or dramatic as you'd like.

Perform flexibility exercises

Many people think that a standard flexibility circuit is the only good way to build flexibility, but standing tall and reaching for thirty minutes might not be compelling enough to keep people coming back. Fortunately, exercises like yoga and Pilates incorporate flexibility into their strength-building routines. Do one of these exercises and you'll be able to strengthen and lengthen your muscles all at once. Other group fitness workouts usually include warm up and cool down stretches - the group setting is a great way to reduce the exercise's boredom factor.

Build a regular routine

The most important step toward flexibility is consistency. Becoming more limber is just like any other exercise - you'll make more gains the longer you do it. Try to dedicate at least 10 minutes of every day to stretching. The easiest way to do this is to make it part of your morning or bedtime routine. If you're not a fan of stretching on your own, make a commitment to doing a strength and flexibility combo exercise like Pilates or yoga 2-3 times a week and supplement the other days with a 5-10 minute stretch routine.