Animal-Inspired Stretches to Move Your Body!
Have you ever gotten up from a nap or after sitting a long time feeling like you need a nice big stretch? Maybe you find yourself reaching for the stars with your arms or bringing your hands all the way down to the floor to touch your toes.
Stretching is actually really good for you! Not only does it help your body stay loose so you can throw a ball extra-far or do the splits, it can also be a great way to calm your mind and take a break from thinking—like when you’ve been doing schoolwork, learning a new language, or playing the guitar.
And what better way to make a fun activity even more fun than to let animals inspire us for each stretch—plus learn a few fun facts about them along the way.
A huge shoutout to DZ Vegan Kid Athletes, three vegan sisters, for demonstrating each stretch. These girls are impressive athletes who are doing so much for animals by showing that you don’t need to eat meat, eggs, or dairy in order to be strong.
So put some comfy clothes on, find some space, and maybe ask a family member to stretch along with you!
Reach for the Sky Like a Giraffe
Since giraffes are really tall (the tallest mammals on Earth, actually), there’s no better way to act like one than by stretching up as high as you can. Reach your hands toward the sky. As you stretch, pretend to grab leaves from a tree.
Did you know giraffes are herbivores? They eat mostly leaves, seeds, buds, and branches off super-tall trees. They also only need to drink water once every few days! They are very social animals who live together in groups called “towers.”
Touch Your Toes and Sway Like an Elephant
Bend at the hips, and let your arms hang down. Then swing your arms left to right—like elephants do with their trunks!
Elephants are herd animals—all the females in the family stay together their whole lives. Elephants also have excellent memories, and they mourn the loss of friends and family members who have died.
Stretch Your Whole Body Like a Dog
Starting in a standing position, bend down and place your hands on the floor out in front of you and then straighten your legs, pushing back with your hips to stretch your whole body. This stretch is called Downward Dog, and for good reason—maybe you’ve seen a dog stretching like this. You can try shaking your “tail,” too!
Dogs are loving individuals who look to their human families for love and attention. They enjoy being petted and playing games. They are great listeners and can even hear sounds humans can’t.
Crouch Down Like a Frog
Place your feet a little bit wider than your hips, and drop your bottom almost to the floor. Put your fingers on the floor in front of you to help you keep your balance—you’ll look just like a frog who’s ready to leap off a lily pad.
Frogs are so interesting. They can jump over 20 times the length of their own body, and instead of drinking water, they absorb it through their skin! Some frog species use a “babysitter” to watch over their eggs until they hatch.
Stretch Your Belly Like a Snake
Lie down flat on your stomach. Place your hands on the floor on each side of your chest, and push your upper body upward, stretching your tummy.
Snakes smell with their tongues and can even tell which direction a smell is coming from. Most of them are loners—they really enjoy their alone time.
Drop Your Belly Like a Cow
Get on your hands and knees, and drop your belly toward the floor as you lift your chin and chest toward the ceiling.
A herd of cows isn’t too different from a pack of wolves—some individuals are leaders, and there are complex social dynamics. Each cow can recognize 50 or more members of the herd, and relationships are very important to them.
Arch Your Back Like a Cat
After doing the cow stretch, arch your back toward the ceiling as you move your chin down toward your chest.
Cats can jump up to six times higher than their own height. They use different body language, purrs, and other sounds to communicate what they want. They also love to sleep near or on things that smell like their human companion (aww).
That was great! You got your body moving, hopefully you feel more relaxed, and maybe you learned something about animals. Share this with your friends so they can be inspired to take a break and stretch, too. ☺️
Under 13? Ask your parents bee-fore you continue!