Joseph Pilates, the founder of the Pilates physical fitness system once said, “If your spine is stiff at 30, you are old. If it is flexible at 60, you are young.”
He couldn’t have said it better. However, when you are young, you are healthier, stronger and your body is less sensitive. As age creeps up on you, you’ll lose muscle mass and your body is more sensitive to pain.
Since many people do not engage in resistance training to retard the muscle loss, the muscle fibers in the body start decreasing. They are then replaced by collagen which will get stiffer with time and reduce one’s mobility. The best way to remedy this problematic situation is with regular stretching. There are a multitude of benefits that can be accrued just by stretching for about 15 to 20 minutes a day. Let’s look at some of the benefits.
- Reduces stress
Stretching is a good form of stress relief. One may wonder what stress a senior in his or her golden years may face. After all, they’re probably retired and are living a life of relative ease, right?
Wrong. Seniors face stress too. It could be health issues, loneliness, etc. Stress affects everyone to varying degrees. Daily stretching sessions will help seniors alleviate stress.
- Maintains mobility
The more limber you are, the more easily you’ll move. Climbing the stairs, bending down to pick up the newspaper, etc. will be much easier to do because your body is flexible.
- Eases pain
Neck aches, backaches, etc. can all be relieved to some degree with daily stretching. Not only will the sessions improve one’s blood circulation, but the ‘tightness’ that causes the muscle imbalance and pain will be eased and this will bring about pain relief.
- Prevents insomnia
Stretching about 30 minutes prior to bedtime will help to relax the body. Of course, the stretching has to be slow and relaxed. This will help to calm your body down and allow you to sleep more easily.
- Improves physical performance
It goes without saying that seniors should lead an active lifestyle. Walking, cycling, swimming, etc. can be done well into your later years. Resistance training is also a must to prevent muscle atrophy.
By being flexible, you’ll be able to perform much better at all these sports. Your body has a greater range of motion. You move faster and more easily because you’re flexible. Your athletic performance is improved when you’re limber.
- Improves posture
Stretching regularly will help to prevent the hunched appearance that so many seniors have. Stretching helps to strengthen your muscles too. You’ll be able to stand straight without hunching.
Very often, seniors hunch because the muscles are tight. That’s why training methods such as yoga and Pilates are so helpful for seniors. They help to strengthen the body while increasing flexibility.
- Prevents cramps and injuries
By being flexible, you’ll be less prone to cramps, sprains, etc. Just ensure you’re getting enough water daily so that you’re not dehydrated. By now, you should be aware of just how beneficial regular stretching can be… and the points mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. Adopt a daily stretching routine and in about 3 weeks to a month, you’ll feel the difference and never look back.
Kelvin Teo also writes at Holistic Health Methods — a health and wellness blog focusing primarily on the topics of holistic health, home remedies and alternative therapies.