Have you been feeling more stiff and sore than usual? If you have noticed everyday activities are more difficult than they used to be, don’t be alarmed — these are normal signs of aging. As we get older, our flexibility declines because our muscles gradually get stiffer over time. But don’t worry! Here are some helpful ways to maintain your flexibility.
Stretch. Stretching is a fairly simple way to maintain your flexibility and reduce soreness. When you stretch, you extend the tissue to its full length. If you hold that tension long enough, the muscle will be longer after it relaxes again.Regular stretching will help increase your range of motion, reduce your risk of muscle and joint injuries, help alleviate back pain, improve your posture, and help your balance, which also reduces your risk of falling. It is important to stretch correctly. Be sure to warm up for about 10 minutes before stretching by taking a walk, bike riding or other activity. Don’t push too hard too fast to avoid overextending yourself.
Try yoga or tai chi. Alternate forms of exercise that are slow paced and gentle, like yoga or tai chi, are also good ways to maintain your flexibility. Yoga can help keep your muscles agile, and there are various styles and types you can try depending on your skill level. As with any new type of activity, be patient with yourself. You may not feel flexible or able to do all the postures at first, but as you continue to practice, you’ll find that the postures and poses come more easily. Keep at it.
Get in the water. It might sound silly, but moving in water is a great way to maintain your flexibility. Exercising in water is gentle on your body, and it’s fun, whether you’re outdoors or indoors. Try water aerobics or go for a swim. The buoyancy of the water makes it low impact and helps take the pressure off of your joints. The cool water is also good for your muscles, and it naturally soothes any sore or strained muscles. Feeling sore? You’d be surprised how much better your muscles feel after a dip in the pool. Regular exercise and movement are key to maintaining flexibility as you age. Don’t be discouraged, just get started. Finding an activity that you enjoy and a workout buddy are also helpful to maintaining an exercise routine.