The importance of stretching and flexibility for seniors

senior after exercisingThe process of aging affects our bodies in many ways. Bones can lose density, joints can suffer from arthritis, and our muscles become shorter and lose some of their elasticity. To help keep your body as flexible and strong as possible as you age, it’s important to including stretching as a way to offset some of the effects of aging such as diminishing range of motion. Stretching is an ideal way to relax, reduce pain, and keep your muscles flexible.

There are two basic types of stretching: static and dynamic. Static stretching is a prolonged exercise that puts a low load on your muscles and helps develop long-term lengthening of the muscle and its surrounding tissue. The result is more flexibility and greater range of motion.

Dynamic stretching is more active and puts a greater load on your muscles, so it’s best done after a thorough warm-up. It involves a back-and-forth (oscillary) motion of some kind that can help increase range of motion. Because it is considered a more strenuous form of stretching, care should be taken in making sure you’re doing it properly and appropriately. Static stretching is generally considered safer than dynamic stretching for most seniors.

Yoga for seniors

Yoga for seniors has become highly popular as more and more people are discovering it to be a great way to relax, relieve stress, breathe better, and stay flexible. Experts are also finding that yoga for seniors helps manage some of the common health and emotional well-being issues facing seniors today, such as loss of muscle tone and flexibility, high blood pressure, overall heart function, and depression.

While yoga can help with breathing, focus, and overall muscle tone and flexibility, many yoga poses are designed to target specific areas of the body, such as the back, legs, and joints to keep the body limber and reduce pain.

Yoga for seniors offers:

  • a gentle form of exercise that doesn’t strain joints and muscles
  • improved blood flow to various organs and tissues throughout the body
  • increased flexibility
  • breathing techniques that encourage deep and proper breathing to improve air flow and lung capacity
  • meditation techniques to improve concentration and sharpen memory

As with any exercise program, it’s important that you first consult with a healthcare provider or physical therapist to determine the best regimen for your condition and abilities.

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