Stretching throughout the day gets the blood circulating and heart pumping when you wake up or feel sluggish in the late afternoon. It completes a work out and is an excellent habit to get into before going to bed.

Stretching is one of those anytime, anywhere, good-for-you activities you can do from the comfort of home, at your desk or while walking the dog. The trick to staying limber as we age—especially if we lead a sedentary lifestyle—is stretching. And being limber promotes flexibility which helps prevent injury. But before you hit the floor, be sure you're stretching safely and effectively. While it's best to stretch after engaging in physical activity, when muscles are warm, a hot shower can help make muscles more pliable. Stretching anytime muscles are tight is an effective remedy-especially when you're achy from sitting, strength training or sleeping. Here, we've collected the best stretches to incorporate into your day.

After Work

Many of us have jobs that require sitting-for prolonged periods of time. "Current research suggests that those of us with sedentary sitting jobs should get up every hour to move and stretch," says Grace DeSimone, national director of Group Fitness at Plus One Health Management in New York City. Whether it's at a desk chair, on a couch or behind the wheel in traffic, sitting for extended periods can cause bad posture and discomfort. The fix: stretching out the spine, chest and shoulders with an easy twist.

Threading the Needle

  • Start on all fours. Lift your right palm up as if you were going to kiss it, then pass it under the left arm as lean your body on your right shoulder. (Right shoulder is on the floor, right cheek is on the floor.)
  • Hold for three to five breaths and repeat on the other side.

After Working Out

Every well-balanced exercise routine should include a post-sweat stretch, but it doesn't hurt to stretch after a relaxed stroll around the block, too. This one targets the large muscles of hips and thighs.

Hip Flexor Stretch

  • Begin on your hands and knees on the floor. Move into a lunge position by stepping your right foot in between your hands (keep right knee aligned over ankle). Your left knee remains resting on the floor, top of left foot on the floor.
  • Slowly lean forward keeping your left shin and knee on the floor. You should feel a stretch in the front of your left hip and thigh. Make sure your right knee isn't extending farther than your toes. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch sides. Repeat four times.

Before Getting Out of Bed in the Morning

Usually the result of "sleeping funny," a creaky neck can make you cranky. Get out of the right side of the bed with this remedy for stiff neck.

Seated Neck Release

  • Sit on the floor or in bed in a cross-legged position. Extend your right arm alongside you, fingertips grazing the ground.
  • Place your left hand on the top of your head and slowly tilt your head to the left (bringing ear toward shoulder). Apply gentle pressure with your hand to increase the stretch. Hold on this side for 30 seconds, then slowly lift your head up and repeat this stretch on the other side.

Before Going to Bed at Night

Get the kinks of the day out by targeting your lower back. Bonus: Also known as the "wind-relieving pose" in yoga, this stretch will alleviate any post-dinner gas pain before bed.

Knee to Chest Back Stretch

  • Lie on your back on a firm surface (you can put a mat or towel on the floor) with legs extended. Gently bend your right knee into your chest. Clasp your hands in front of your shin and gently pull knee toward you to increase the stretch. Release any tension in your shoulders and neck. Keep your left leg relaxed in a comfortable position.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat with the left knee bent.

Grace DeSimone reviewed this article.