• Karen McPhail

The Importance of Daily Stretching!

Stretching is often forgotten as a part of daily preventative health.  Daily exercise and stretching is important at any age for several reasons.  Exercise and stretching clearly help to keep one healthy and have benefits for cardiovascular, circulatory, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal health as well as immune function, mental health, stress management, cognition, and more. Physical activity keeps muscles strong and assists with mobility, balance, strength, and your overall flexibility.  As we get older, it is important to maintain strength and flexibility in order to help with balance, mobility, and proper range of motion in our joints.  Proper stretching and movement exercises helps us to avoid muscle shortening and tightening. If we do not maintain our muscles, they will weaken, which can lead to decreased range of motion, mobility issues, falls, fractures, and other possible injuries.  Consider stretching and movement exercises another important preventative health step! Preventative health is important so reach out if you need guidance in this regard!

Try to make exercise and stretching a part of every day. Stretching our head, neck, lower back, and shoulders (where tension tends to settle) is very important.  Also, rolling joints such as hips, knees, and ankles will help to lubricate joints, which often affects mobility.  Thirty minutes of cardio-respiratory exercise daily is highly recommended. This can be done through walking, biking, swimming, aerobics, or even chair exercises.  Start slow! When done properly and consistently, all of these exercises can be of great benefit. Strength training can also be done with guidance from a professional.  Strength training helps to prevent the loss of bone mass and assists with improving overall balance and strength.  Strength training can be an essential step in preventing falls and broken bones. Resistance bands, hand weights, and more can be done two to three days a week, with rest days in between being extremely vital.  Always consult your physician and a knowledgeable trainer prior to beginning an exercise regime.  

When stretching, always hold a stretch strong, firm, and without pulsing for around thirty seconds. Never hold the stretch if it is painful. Stretching should feel good and provide only slight pressure- it should never be done to the point of discomfort or pain!

You can stand to do stretching by keeping your legs spread slightly and knees bent, holding your back straight and core muscles as tight as possible; however, you can sit in a chair if it is more comfortable or easier for you.  

Some excellent exercise tapes for older adults are on the market and can be used for some variety at home.  Tai Chi, chair exercises, water aerobics, pilates, swimming, and yoga are also excellent ways to stretch and get moving. Classes can be accessed as appropriate via video, TV, or by attending classes in your community, a fitness club, or through a senior center.  Again, as with all exercise programs, please consult your physician before beginning to obtain proper guidance.

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