As you age, your muscles tighten and range of motion in the joints is reduced. This hinders active lifestyles and even normal day-to-day motions. A regular stretching program can help reduce muscle imbalances and tightness.
I will limit the discussion to static stretching, which is basically holding the stretch for 20-30 seconds at the point of moderate tension in the muscle. Stretch each muscle group for 2-3 sets.
You should stretch your muscles every day to help prevent injuries, maintain normal joint range of motion, relieve stress and improve circulation. Stretch the major muscles in your body (shoulders, arms, gluteals, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, back, etc.) and the minor muscles such as those in the neck.
It is also important to stretch smoothly and slowly (never bounce) and breathe normally during the stretching motions. You can stretch in the morning, during your work day and at night.
When you exercise, warmup 5-10 with your favorite cardio activity at a moderate pace. This is known as a dynamic warmup (use your muscles to warm up your muscles). It’s okay if your body doesn’t respond to physical activity and exercise as it once did when you were 20 or 30 years old! You can’t change your age but you can slow down your biological clock.
You don’t have to significantly decrease your activity level as you grow older. You just might need to change the type of exercises you do, such as doing low-impact exercises to decrease wear and tear on your body. Do your static stretches after your exercise program to restore your muscles to normal length.
Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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Walk your grandkids to school. The walk to school is good for mom and dad too! A workout doesn’t have to mean running laps or lifting weights, or setting aside huge blocks of time. When you regard exercise as leading an active lifestyle, which you can do with your grandkids, you’ll be able to fit in more exercise than you think possible.