Stretching for Flexibility
Most adults experience increased muscle stiffness with aging. However, it has been found that stiffness does not seem to be caused by aging. Reduced physical activity or specific health conditions such as arthritis cause the body to become less flexible. The loss of flexibility is not an inevitable consequence of aging. With proper regular stretching, a person can maintain or even improve flexibility at all ages.
Many serious athletes include some degree of stretching in their exercise programs to decrease injuries. Maintaining normal flexibility is an important part of fitness.
Listed below are The President’s Council for Physical Fitness and Sports Research Digest guidelines for stretching to maintain flexibility:
- Bullet Stretch at least three times per week, preferably every day.
- Bullet Stretch slowly and easily with low levels of force.
- Bullet Hold stretches comfortably for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat each stretch 4 to 5 times. Stretch after moderate or vigorous physical activity.
Only stretch muscles that have been thoroughly warmed up by physical activity, otherwise stretching before physical activity may actually weaken muscles and decrease some types of exercise performance.
If you’re new to stretching, find a fitness professional who can provide guidance on proper technique. Take it slow and work into it gradually.