Health Benefits of Stretching More as You Age
As we age, we become wiser, more experienced, and more knowledgeable. Doesn’t it make sense to have our flexible bodies stay at the same pace as the rest of our amazing advanced self?
I personally want to be able to travel when I’m older; and that means, walking through new cities, exploring, experiencing, without a cane and without a wheelchair. I respect, honor and love my healthy body, and want to do the best I can to keep it in the best shape possible. Being active mentally and physically are the same thing. Our inner and outer being work together, to create a healthy temple.
Every day, every week, every month, we don’t stretch and practice yoga, we are limiting ourselves. We are limiting ourselves in the present and in the future. Just think what 15-20 minutes a day of stretching and yoga could do for you?
One of the most awe-inspiring things I have noticed about people who stretch and do yoga regularly is that they also have an easiness, and a flowy vibe in their minds! People with a regular practice easily glide through life, with a self-assurance that yoga gives. It is almost an invisible quality. A quality that makes your friends say, “What are you doing? You look great! You seem to be very easy about this aging thing!”
Flexibility is not a requirement for doing Yoga, it is actually the reason why you need yoga especially as we grow older.
So many times I hear yoga students say, “I’m not flexible, I can’t do yoga.” HELLO!!! That’s why we ALL need to do yoga especially as we age! Stretching is my secret weapon and it should be yours also!
When you think of flexibility, you probably think of touching your toes, doing a backbend or doing a split. Although those might be good ways to measure and track flexibility, defining flexibility is actually a bit more complicated. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), flexibility is described as “the range of motion of a given joint or group of joints or the level of tissue extensibility that a muscle group possesses.” The point is…. keep those joints moving! Everyone’s flexibility level is different and personal!
Most People Aren’t Flexible When They Start Yoga
Most of us are not flexible when we start yoga. Unless you are born with the gift of natural flexibility or were a gymnast or ballerina in a past life, nobody is that flexible when they start.
Everyone usually has one area where they are naturally more flexible. Some people are more of a back bendy person while some are more of a forward fold person. Some, rare ones, have both equally in their bodies.
Speaking from personal experience, I’m definitely a more natural forward fold person. Every ounce, every inch, every centimeter of back bendiness I have today has been learned. I have earned every inch in my back by working on stretches that allowed me to learn how to bend and mold my body.
How Flexible Should I Be?
While the lack of flexibility can hamper activity, being overly flexible and twisting your body into a pretzel doesn’t necessarily equate to any big health benefits. There is really no specific answer on how flexible you should be, that part is up to you. But what is important is to not worry about comparing yourself to others but instead listen to your body and focus on what level of flexibility is right for you.
Flexibility is especially important to pay attention to you as you age. After age 30 our muscles begin to naturally shrink, lose water content, making bodies stiffer and less mobile which is why we all can benefit from being aware of our flexibility and incorporate stretching and/or yoga into our fitness regimens. Flexibility can provide us with…
- More mobility
- Less stress
- Less injury prone
- Better posture
- Better mind-body connection
- Better performance
- Range of motion
- Reduce tension
Improving Flexibility is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
We all have temporary stretch maximums. They are temporary because, over time, your maximum stretch constantly adjusts becoming your new maximum. You are not in a race to get there. There is no finish line.
No matter how flexible you are today, it is temporary. Always remember that everyone started somewhere. And you may very well be more flexible than you think you are. As soon as you let go of being in competition with yourself, the more you can let go and allow your body naturally bend.
Yoga Will Help You Gain Flexibility, But It is Much More Than That
When someone lacks flexibility they typically also will lack strength. Yoga is a wonderful way to balance both your strength and flexibility. Use your flexibility to help improve strength while using your strength to improve flexibility.
Putting time into stretching will help you stay youthful, stay young and help protect you from injuries. It can give you freedom as you age so that you can continue to travel, play golf, be social… doing the things you want to do far into your age. When you keep your joints mobile, and limbs long, you will stay youthful not only in your body but also your attitude.
Getting Results Requires a Commitment
But getting results requires commitment: If you don’t do any stretching or yoga right now, start with doing a yoga routine 3 times a week. Ideally, you will want to work up to doing some sort of practice every day.
Sometimes we don’t have time to get a full practice in. A 15-minute or 20-minute yoga routine can help bridge the gap between longer practices. This is why I have put together a variety of stretching classes that vary from 5-minutes to 50-minutes. Don’t let not having enough time to stretch be an excuse! We can all find 15 minutes during the day.
Flexibility doesn’t happen in one session! Give yourself time and embrace the cumulative effect of making a commitment to a bendy, stretchy practice! Here’s to us all aging gracefully, with flexible joints, open hips, bendy backs, stress-free shoulders, and flexible knees.
I really want you to show yourself some love! Take care of yourself through daily stretches, to maintain flexibility. You may not be training for the Olympics, but you are investing time, respect, and self-worth, to yourself; think of it as a maintenance practice or a longevity practice!