Stretching your body, no matter your age or flexibility level, is an important part of healthy aging and can support a more independent lifestyle.
According to Colorado State University, stretching can have physical and mental health benefits. Stretching daily has been shown to increase range of motion, blood flow to muscles, flexibility, and support good posture. It can also reduce stress. Not stretching can cause muscles to become shorter and tighter, which may cause a decrease in range of motion and flexibility or make you more susceptible to injury due to falls.
Although stretching can become slightly more difficult as you age, the benefits of daily stretching far outweigh the effort it takes.
Harvard Health Publishing recommends six tips for safe stretching:
Stretching is much easier when your body is loosened up through careful movement. Try marching in place for a few minutes before stretching or dancing around the house to a few songs. Using a heat pack or taking a warm shower can also prepare your body for stretching.
If you’re stretching to the point where you start to feel pain in your body, be sure to stop immediately, reset your position and try again. The goal should only be to stretch to the point of mild tension.
Focusing on proper posture and form are important steps in minimizing the risk of injury and maximizing flexibility while stretching tight muscles.
One side of your body may be tighter than the other side, so be sure to focus on balancing them out. For example, if you're stretching your arms and notice that your right arm holds more tension than your left, allow a little more time to stretch your right arm until the tension is evened out.
You may find yourself holding your breath while you’re in the middle of a stretch. Remind yourself to take comfortable, even breaths while stretching. You can also try yoga breathing exercises.
6. Stretch regularly
The best way to see the results that stretching offers is to practice it every day or as often as possible. Harvard Health Publishing recommends two to three times a week at minimum.
The safest and most effective type of stretching is static stretching. Static stretching involves moving your muscles as far as they can go without feeling any pain and holding the position for about 20 seconds (30 seconds max). See ten static stretches and how to do them here.
Wellzesta supports residents and staff member’s journeys through healthy aging which includes a thriving body.
Wellzesta’s daily wellness content includes articles and videos that lead residents through safe stretches and the importance of moving your body.
Wellzesta also allows users to input their daily stretches as “Independent Activities” in their Events section so they get credit for the hard work they’ve put in.
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