Stretching can help reduce or even reverse many of the effects of aging. It can help keep you strong, flexible, and healthy.
As we get older, we tend to start losing mobility, which can affect almost everything that we do. Any steps you can take to help maintain mobility will have a significant effect on your overall quality of life.
Luckily, stretching not only helps maintain mobility, but it also feels good, relieves tension, and doesn't require a lot of time.
If that's not enough motivation to start a regular stretching program, consider these benefits of stretching:
Stretching Can Help Prevent Falls
Falling is a serious health risk for older adults. Stretching helps prevent falls by improving the flexibility of muscles in the lower body, including the quads, hamstrings, and lower back. Stretching also increases mobility in the hips. The resulting increased ease of movement contributes to greater stability and balance.
Stretching Makes You More Energetic
Dynamic stretches increase the flow of blood in your whole body, and that makes you feel more energetic. Dynamic stretches are active stretches, such as lunges, squats, kicks, arm circles, and hip circles. In addition to increasing circulation and energy, dynamic stretches are also often used as warmups before other more vigorous exercise.
Stretching Improves Posture
If you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk, hunched over an electronic device, you probably are experiencing the bad effects too much sitting has on your posture -- and if you aren't experiencing it yet, you will eventually. Years of slumping in a chair take their toll in rounded shoulders, a head that juts forward, and a compressed spine. This bad posture is not only unattractive, but it can also cause pain in your back, shoulders, and neck.
Stretching can loosen the overly tight muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your shoulders, neck, chest, and back. As you release some of the tension, you will start to relieve the pain the tension caused. You will gain flexibility that will allow your body to go back to a more natural and healthy alignment.
Stretching Relieves Arthritis
Stretching can help relieve the joint pain that comes with arthritis. It does so by lubricating your joints and increasing your range of motion. The Arthritis Foundation recommends that you do dynamic stretching if you have arthritis. Only do static stretches, where you hold the stretch, if you warm up first for at least five or 10 minutes.
Stretching Reduces Stress
Stress makes our muscles tense up, but habitually tensed muscles make us feel stressed out. It's a vicious cycle that can be broken by stretching. When you stretch, your muscles have a chance to release tension. This feels great by itself, but stretching also has other stress-reducing benefits. It increases your circulation, and it spurs the release of endorphins in your body, which makes you feel even more relaxed.
To get the most out of stretching, you should stretch on a regular basis. If you are new to stretching, you may soon find that the benefits are so great that you have no trouble sticking to your stretch routine at least twice a week.