No, literally, stretch yourself. We have this image of big muscles or extreme cardio as benefitting our health in the long run. Certainly, most all exercise is better than nothing. But stretching has specific benefits that other forms of exercise do not have.
I take time every morning and every afternoon to stretch my neck, my back, and my legs. It's all about bloodflow and the prevention of injury.
1. Bloodflow - Blood carries nutrients to our muscles and cells. Additionally, blood takes away waster and other negative materials from our muscles and cells. Cells need oxygen and nutrients to function most effectively. The more blood flowing freely to your cells, the better.
Diabetics focus on this intently. My diabetic friends monitor their blood levels several times a day. However, they also tell me that they try to maximize blood flow to all areas of their bodies. You see, diabetics are especially susceptible to a lack of adequate blood flow to limbs and eyes. Other than the brain, the eyes consume more oxygen than any other organ in the body. Diabetics attempt to use hot baths, exercise, massage and more to increase blood flow to limbs.
Why is this important to know for non-diabetics? Because most of us live a more sedentary, more tense lifestyle now. We need to move more. We need to address stress more effectively. Many of us are overweight. The more pressure that weight put on our backs and limbs, the less bloodflow we have. Stretching helps increase the flow of blood into our limbs. The neck, the back, the hamstrings, the calves, the forearms, and the abdominals are great areas to stretch.
2. Prevention of Injury - The more flexible we are, the less likely we are to experience injury in sport or everyday life. Those with tense backs / necks, weak legs, tight hamstrings, etc. are more likely to have injuries that require medical intervention. Stay loose!
If you fall, flexible & toned muscles are more able to react well and minimize damage. If you are in a car accident, a flexible spine and conditioned legs can better deal with the blow. In your work, a looser body has more stamina.
It's simple. Research (with Google or a similar search engine) the benefits of stretching.