SF: Flexibility – Important at every age

Why Stretch?

Because stretching is great for you. Why? According to the Mayo Clinic, stretching may help you:

  • Improve your joint range of motion (your flexibility)Flexible Older Couple
  • Improve your athletic performance
  • Decrease your risk of injury

Mayo goes on to say:

Stretching can help improve flexibility, and, consequently, range of motion about your joints. Better flexibility may:

  • Improve your performance in physical activities
  • Decrease your risk of injuries
  • Help your joints move through their full range of motion
  • Enable your muscles to work most effectively

Simply put, stretching can give you more freedom of movement for your physical and everyday activities. You can, and should, keep stretching no matter how young or old you are (of course, check with your doctor to be sure the stretches you choose are appropriate for you). Note: Look for flexibility or stretching exercises – these will focus on .

Different types of stretches – Static & Dynamic

There are two basic types of stretches, Static and Dynamic. There is actually a third type, Ballistic, but it includes bouncing and for professionally fit people. We’ll focus on dynamic and static, which will benefit us most. Note that most exercises don’t mention the type of stretch. This may be because once you know how to do the exercise, you can modify it to suit your needs. Let me explain.

Chris Lang tells us:  “Static is holding-usually 30-60 seconds per stretch. Best way to increase your flexibility. Dynamic is movement based-sprinters and exercisers perform leg swings, trunk rotations and arm rotations to “loosen” up the joints and muscles before exercise sessions. Excellent way to warm-up and contribute to performance.”

So, you can see that you can easily change a dynamic stretch into a static stretch simply by limiting the movement and holding the stretch. Easy – right?

So, how can you start

Set aside the same time every day to stretch. Unlike strength exercises, you can stretch every day. We have a few simple stretch exercises you can try, most of which you can do at the office, and some of them no one will even know you are exercising!

Stretch yourself! Stretching can be great for your body. It helps keep you flexible so you can reach, bend, and turn more easily. And if you combine stretching with other activities, like strength exercises, it may also prevent injuries.

Some ways to increase flexibility are ballet, yoga, martial arts, or pilates (say: puh-LAH-teez). You can also do stretches for specific parts of your body. Make sure to warm up first. You just need to walk or jog in place for 5 to 10 minutes.

You could also join a Yoga or Pilates class. These classes can be a lot of fun and you may find someone who will exercise with you. Meeting someone at the gym is a great way to be sure you don’t give in to the ‘I don’t feel like it’ thoughts that can hinder your progress. Find a buddy, stick to your ‘stretch dates’ and you’ll soon find that you have more energy, feel and look better too!

 

Speaking of stretching, what’s the difference between Yoga and Pilates?

Yoga Pilates
Definition An ancient practice known as path to both physical and mental Pronounced “Puh-LAH-Teez”, a physical fitness system
Practice In a group sitting on a yoga mat with the aid of a yoga instructor On the Pilates mats
Started 5000 years ago Around 80 years ago
www.diffen.com/difference/Yoga_vs_Pilates

Pilates is based on these six principles

  1. Centering
  2. Concentration
  3. Control
  4. Precision
  5. Breath
  6. Flow
Because Pilates is gentle and challenging at the same time, it is safe and effective for nearly everyone, irrespective of age or fitness ability, from expectant mothers to the super fit. It is also a phenomenal cross-training tool, helping you to maximize the sports and activities you love the most.

Yoga is based on these five principles:
  1. Asanas (proper exercise)
  2. Pranayama (correct breathing)
  3. Saucha (proper diet)
  4. Dhyana (positive thinking and meditation)
  5. Savasana (complete relaxation)

Achieving proper alignment in each yoga posture, and moving into greater ranges of motion while staying connected to one’s breath, challenges your comfort level and leads to transformation from the inside out; practitioners of yoga often see improvements in physical strength, balance, flexibility, stress, and energy levels.

Differences between Yoga & Pilates 

There are a few key differences between and Pilates, but they both improve flexibility. Yoga concentrates mostly on increasing strength and flexibility of the spine and limbs; Pilates focuses on building abdominal strength first, and then symmetrical musculature as well as overall flexibility.

Read more: whats_the_difference_between_yoga_and_pilates

If you have already added stretching to your weekly workouts, Congratulations! And if you haven’t, we hope you will consider this important addition to your routine. Always keep in mind that while stretching is great for you, these exercises alone do not improve your balance, endurance or strength so be sure you fit all four (4) types of exercises into your week – Balance, Endurance, Flexibility and Strength – BEFS!

Thank you for stopping by – we are happy that you spent part of your day with us. Wishing you the best of health!

 

You might like…

Flexibility / Stretch Bands are fun and can help make your stretches more enjoyable… A note of caution – Be sure your bands are in good working condition. Do not use stretch bands that are old, torn or have holes in them as the elastic may break.

Author: Joan E Wilder

We provide information and motivation focused on the importance of physical activity to our quality of life. It is our hope to help people invest in themselves by staying active throughout their lives. It's that important.

25 thoughts

    1. Why thank you Dave! It was nice of you to stop by – and I hope you find some of our tips and exercises helpful!! Enjoy!

    1. I wish I was there too – I’m sure we would have a lot of fun. I am the most unathletic person you could ever meet. Thanks for stopping by Christy, and be sure to have fun in class!!

    1. Thank you Doctor Jonathan! Yes, I know from personal experience that I was overlooking the benefits of stretching and added it to one of my workout days and love it. It may be crazy but I believe that is contributing to some additional weight loss, so I am very happy with that inclusion! Thank you for visiting us – I always love your contributions!

        1. Thank you so much Doctor, I value your efforts at Allabouthealthychoices.wordpress.com as well, your kind words are greatly appreciated!

  1. Thank you Joan I always wonder what the difference was between yoga & pilates! I plan on taking a yoga class soon. MG

    1. That’s wonderful Mary! I think you’ll enjoy it. If you can, bring someone along, a friend or family member, and start a friendly ‘wager’. If you don’t go, you pay. It can be a dollar in a jar. And be sure to motivate each other, that really helps – please let us know how you are doing with this. Have fun !

  2. Joan, I often stand whilst watching television in the evening. I can be seen stretching! The point being; you don’t have to ‘make time’ to stretch. The living room floor, especially with a yoga mat for comfort, can make your favourite TV programme ‘guilt free’! Smiling… :)

    1. Thank you for visiting Carolyn, we are happy you stopped by. Thank you for the wonderful suggestion, that is a great idea! And the best part is that with a few stretches you are going from a TV couch potato to doing something good for your health! Thank you for stopping by and your wonderful suggestion – wishing you the best of health.
      Smiling too… :)

    1. Thank you Jerry, I hope you visit often and find our articles useful – if you ever need an exercise to print, I’m happy to format for you, so just let us know. Stay healthy and thank you for visiting!

        1. Thanks Jerry, that is nice of you to say. Been there, done that comes to mind. Because I’ve personally seen the benefits of exercising, I want to share! That and I dislike dieting LOL :) Please let us know how you are doing with staying active, it’s the best gift you can give yourself!

        2. Thanks! It’s true Joan, staying active is priceless! I practice calisthenics and lots of stretching everyday and I walked most evenings.

        3. You are a great inspiration Jerry – what is your motivation secret 🙂

        4. That is a great motivator Jerry and one I share with you too. But I didn’t always feel that way and spent many hours working each day. Too many. But then I was laid off and began volunteering in a senior home. Then I noticed that the people that aren’t in wheelchairs are more physically fit. They walk and go to stretch class, and do whatever they can to stay active. So, with more physical activity, I believe people would have a better quality of life and may prevent the need for a wheelchair, which sadly, many people depend on. And that’s my goal – better quality of life and hopefully here we share that goal wih others so they will stay out of a wheelchair too…
          Thank you for taking time out of your day to share Jerry – I enjoy your visits! Hugs

        5. Thank you Jerry it’s such a wonderful feeling – the people that I visit (and their families) are so appreciative and loving! Wishing you the best of health!! Hugs

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