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Stretching Exercises are Good for Seniors

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Sep 10, 2010 C. Marie Burke
Stretching is not the same as exercise, but it helps maintain flexibility and balance. Here are easy stretching exercises for seniors.

According to the Mayo Clinic, stretching is a "powerful part of any exercise program." Stretching increases flexibility, balance and circulation. The Centers for Disease Control also agrees that being limber and flexible is important to avoid injury and disability, and helps delay the onset of chronic diseases of old age.

enefits of Stretching Exercises for Seniors

Stretching can slow aging, prevent injury, and improve health:
  • Stretching to slow aging - performing activities more safely
The article, "Stretching: Focus on Flexibility," by the Mayo Clinic, February 1, 2009, explains that stretching exercises improve the ability to perform daily tasks that might otherwise cause a strain or pulled muscle, such as over-reaching, bending over and lifting objects. Stretching also prevents injury due to exercise.

  • Increasing range of motion prevents injury
Increased range of motion and joint flexibility enhances balance and prevents falls. Having to perform a task from an awkward position or in a rush is less likely to cause injury if the body remains limber and flexible.
  • Stretching to slow aging - improved circulation
Stretching exercises increase the flow of blood to muscle cells. Improved circulation is critical in preventing high blood pressure and cardio-vascular disorders and maintaining health during chronic illness, such as diabetes.
  • Stretching to release tension
Stretching is a natural way to release tension that we often forget. When muscles are tense, they are more prone to injury from lifting and sudden movement.

Easy Stretching Exercises for Seniors

Basic stretching exercises are simple and easy:

  • Hamstring stretch
Stretch the backs of your legs by sitting on the floor with legs together and bending at the waist, reaching the arms toward the feet. Stretch as far as you can without causing pain. Hold for a few seconds and stretch again, trying to reach a bit further. Stretch a third time.
  • Shoulder and chest stretch
This stretch feels especially good. Stand with arms hanging at the side and clasp your hands together. Move your hands back, away from your body until you feel the stretch in your shoulders and your chest stretching forward. Stretch a little more each time and hold for a few seconds.

Lumbar (lower back) Stretches

These stretches are actually a part of beginner's yoga:
  1. Get down on all fours and curve your spine upward, head down, as you breath in. Hold until you feel a pleasant stretch in your back as it curves. As you exhale, lift the head up and curl the spine inward and hold for a few seconds. Repeat a few times, stretching a little more.
  2. From the same position, slowly kneel and sit back, with your buttocks on your heels. Stretch your arms out as you lower your head to the ground and relax. Slowly, walk your hands to right until you feel a stretch in your left side. Then walk your hands to the right until you feel a stretch in your right side.
For a special relaxing treat, end your stretches by laying on your back, pull your knees up to your chest, and with your arms around your knees, gently rock from side to side. This is also a yoga relaxation technique.

Stretches to Prevent Aging - Enjoyable and Relaxing, but Difficult to Remember

Stretching is easy and feels good, but we still forget to include stretches in our daily routine. People who are concerned about slowing the aging process need to remember easy stretching exercises to prevent injury and the onset of the diseases of aging.
Additional Information: For additional stretching exercises, visit the NIH Medline website and search under "Exercises for Seniors," Chapter 4: Sample Exercises, Flexibility.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.

Copyright C. Marie Burke. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

Read more at Suite101: Stretching Exercises are Good for Seniors

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