Flexibility:  Key to a Healthy Lifestyle



Flexibility, like strengthening and aerobic exercise, provides anti-aging benefits.  Are you beginning to notice that you are becoming less flexible and your daily activities are becoming more difficult to perform?  A loss of flexibility can contribute to a loss of everyday activities, such as bending over to tie your shoes, finding you are unable to participate to your fullest in your sport, pulling muscles in your legs or low back doing everyday activities.  Flexibility is for everyone, regardless of age.  When muscles become tight, you begin to loose range of motion in your joints which can put a halt to your active lifestyle and hinder day-to-day activities.  A regular stretching program will help lengthen your muscles and help you restore youthful activity.  A flexible joint has the ability to move further in its range and requires less energy to do so.  With appropriate training, flexibility can be developed at all ages.  It is true, that as we age, we loose some degree of flexibility.  This loss of flexibility is due to certain changes that take place in our connective tissue and muscle tissue in our body.  Some of the most important factors that stretching provides is a relaxation of your mind and body, preserve range of motion in your joints, prevent injury during exercise, prepare your muscles for vigorous activity, and help promote improved circulation.  Flexibility training reduces muscle soreness as recent studies have shown that stretching is extremely effective in reducing localized, delayed muscular soreness after exercise.  You should stretch at least 3 days per week to an intensity of mild discomfort.  When stretching, you should hold the position for 10 seconds working up to a 30 second stretch and perform 3-5 repetitions for each stretch.  Things to remember when stretching is to stretch slowly and smoothly; never bounce, maintain normal breathing during each stretch, and feel the stretch, but don’t strain by stretching too far.  The most important areas to stretch are the low back, hip and groin, knee and calf, hamstrings, and shoulders.  Stretching will provide for a healthier lifestyle, allow you to function at a higher level in sports, and help you prevent injury.  Make flexibility part of your normal work-out routine.