Stretching is often thought of as an activity to undertake before or after exercise, however this is not just the case. In fact, stretching for seniors is incredibly important and beneficial to incorporate into a daily routine. This is because stretching can help to improve circulation, flexibility and build strength.
The Australian Institute of Fitness have stated that even 5-10 minutes per day of stretching can assist in dramatically improving your overall health and wellbeing.
The benefits of stretching
So, what is it about stretching that is so good for our bodies, especially as we age?
Harvard Health explains it simply by saying, “Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.”
Stretching is important for seniors because the more freedom of movement that you have, by staying limber, the more able you will be able to perform and complete everyday activities.
Stretching requires minimal equipment and can be done anywhere in your home, even from the comfort of your chair.
How to get started with stretching
The key for beginning any type of new exercise regime or activity is to do it as a gradual approach. Start out slowly and building from there. You may decide that you want to work on stretching one key area of your body to start with, such as your knees. If you are concerned about how stretching might affect any pre-existing health conditions, it is best to speak to your doctor before beginning.
The Better Health Website lists 10 tips for safe stretching, 3 of which include:
- Breathe normally when stretching – you do not need to hold your breathe or change the pace of breathing.
- Hold a stretch for 10-30 seconds.
- Prevent boredom by trying a variety of stretches for different parts of the body.
Stretches for seniors
There are several online resources dedicated to stretches specifically designed for seniors. Two of these include, the Department of Health’s stretching and balancing exercises and Yoga for Seniors, who conduct online classes. Take the time to find stretches and a program that works well for you.
Feeling inspired? Take a look at our indoor exercises designed for seniors, blog article here.