In trying to sustain an independent lifestyle as we age, intense, results-driven exercises, such as biking, walking, or swimming, are usually at the forefront of the conversation. Flexibility, however, also plays a critical role in extending your ability to function autonomously.
When it comes to senior health and fitness, balance and flexibility exercises provide the perfect complement to strength and endurance training. To accomplish simple, day-to-day activities that you’ve been performing for years, i.e. reaching into a cupboard, bending to pick something up, maintaining muscle elasticity is the most important physical quality to possess. Taking a long walk is good, but you’re going to have a tough time getting started if you can’t tie your sneakers. The rewards of staying limber are extensive and go beyond merely helping you complete tasks.
- Good for Posture & Circulation
Maintaining limber muscles enables our body to relax. It is difficult to achieve good posture when our back, neck and chest muscles are stiff and sore. Flexibility is a key to good posture. Flexibility helps keep our spine and hips properly aligned. This enhances our lung capacity and breathing, which contributes to improved circulation.
- Stress & Pain Relief
Yoga, tai chi or just simple stretching can do wonders when it comes to helping relieve stress by increasing deep breathing and loosening your muscles. These exercises also help relieve the pain we experience from engaging in other physical activities.
- Enhanced Balance
Maintaining flexible muscles and joints enhance your ability to balance. The more limber you are, the more you can control your muscles and react quickly. This can prove valuable in helping to keep you upright in the event something causes you to trip or stumble. Tight muscles simply don’t react well to sudden changes of position.
- Preventing Injuries
If you do happen to fall or experience another forceful impact, muscle and tendon flexibility can diminish the degree of an injury. Stiff muscles won’t move easily when you attempt to brace for the impact of a fall. Staying limber can end up being the difference between a bruise and a broken hip.
Extend Your Muscles and Your Youthful Years
While our joints, muscles and tendons will naturally lose elasticity over time, we can work to retain it. A consistent regimen of stretching will put you on a more limber path that will help you maintain your health and independence for years to come.