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Modify Your Approaches To Flexibility According To Your Age

Remaining physically active is among the optimal practices for maintaining well-being as age advances. “Engaging in physical activities can help prevent numerous age-related health issues,” mentions Kassandra Reagan, DPT, CSCS, a physical therapist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

Being active doesn’t solely involve cardiovascular and strength exercises. The Centers for Disease Control advises seniors to incorporate activities that enhance balance and flexibility weekly. As you grow older, this translates to dedicating more time to stretching. Dr. Reagan emphasizes, “Flexibility and stretching are crucial components of good health that will sustain your ability to enjoy your favorite activities.”

Regarding the most effective stretches and optimizing their benefits, Dr. Reagan notes variability in research findings. “There’s conflicting advice on the timing and duration of stretches,” she explains. “Nevertheless, the agreed-upon benefits remain consistent: enhancing joint mobility, boosting muscle blood flow, and optimizing muscle functionality.”

As age progresses, the benefits of stretching remain constant, but its significance evolves. According to Dr. Reagan, “Physiological changes occur, especially in our muscles. They experience reduced strength, mass, endurance, and flexibility limitations.” Collectively, these changes can impede daily activities and elevate the risk of falls, injuries, or discomfort.

Dr. Reagan highlights that stretching is a valuable strategy to counteract these age-related effects and enhance overall wellness. “You should prioritize stretches that facilitate the necessary range, postures, and positions for your desired activities,” she suggests. “Your stretching routine may vary based on your goals, but a comprehensive full-body stretch regimen can benefit your overall health.”

Adjustments to Consider in Your Stretching Routine as You Age

Various types of stretches exist, with static and dynamic stretching being the most common. Dr. Reagan affirms that both methods effectively enhance flexibility. “Static stretching involves holding a muscle near its limit for an extended period, typically 30 seconds. Dynamic stretches are more active, involving joint and muscle movement through their range of motion,” she clarifies.

Here is a demonstration of dynamic stretches in action in this cooldown routine:

Generally, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends adults perform static stretches 2-3 times a week, holding each stretch for 15-30 seconds and repeating 2-4 times.

However, older adults may require longer stretch durations. Dr. Reagan explains, “Individuals in this age group might need to hold each stretch for 40-60 seconds to achieve the same results. Moreover, older adults are encouraged to incorporate stretches more frequently than the standard 2-3 days per week.”

There’s no specific time for stretching, so integrating it into daily routines is advisable. Whether setting aside time after dinner each night or incorporating a few stretches while waiting for coffee to brew can be beneficial.

One good starting point could be adding brief stretches, such as those in this 8-minute video, to your morning routine:

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