Simple activities can become more difficult as we age, and this is often caused by both a loss of muscle strength and flexibility. Flexibility just means that your muscles and tendons are able to move in such a way that your joints (think knees, hips, elbows, etc.) are able to go through their full range of motion, which just means they are able to move fully as they should. Increased flexibility is one of the benefits of stretching.
A stretching routine can help to keep your joints flexible and limber as you age. This in turn improves your posture and helps to relieve muscle tension and soreness. Another huge benefit of stretching for seniors is that it can help to prevent falls and injuries. There is also some evidence that suggests that stretching may also help to increase your blood circulation and muscle control as well as improve your overall balance and coordination.
Set a goal to stretch all your major muscle groups for at least 10 minutes twice a week. If you’re doing cardiovascular training (like walking, running, biking, etc.) or strength training (lifting weights or resistance exercises), aim to do stretching on all of those days if possible.
- Take a deep breath and slowly exhale (breathe out) as you stretch.
- Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds to allow your muscle enough time to relax.
- Don’t bounce as you stretch, and this can increase your chance of injury.
- Don’t stretch to the point you feel pain, only tension.
- Always warm up before stretching by moving around for a few minutes.