To keep your body limber, it’s a good idea to do exercises specifically focused on flexibility.
As we age, our muscles gradually become shorter and begin to lose some elasticity. Aging can also decrease the range of motion in your hips, shoulders and spine. But if you work flexibility exercises into your routine, it can help offset the effects of aging.
Here are five ways to do it:
1. Take a yoga class
Yoga reduces stress and allows you to focus by using breath control, simple meditation and bodily postures. Not only does it enhance your balance and flexibility, but yoga also leaves you feeling stronger and more mentally focused.
You don’t even have to go to a yoga studio. A variety of websites allow you to take classes — often updated weekly — from your home.
2. Use foam rollers
Using a foam roller helps you improve flexibility, function and performance while preventing injuries.
With a foam roller, you use your own body weight to gently massage away and break up restrictions to normal soft-tissue extensibility. Using a foam roller also helps remove lactic acid from the muscles — so your muscles recover from a workout more quickly.
You can immediately see a difference in how flexible your muscles are after using foam rollers. And, like yoga, foam rollers are great because you can do the exercises at home.
3. Try tai chi
Originally created for self defense, tai chi involves a series of body movements you perform in a slow, focused manner while breathing slowly and deeply.
This ancient Chinese exercise is a low-impact activity that puts minimal stress on your muscles and joints — so it’s safe for all ages and fitness levels. Tai chi will help improve your leg strength, flexibility, range of motion and reflexes.
4. Add stretch bands to your routine
Another exercise option you can use at home is adding stretch bands to your workouts. stretch bands can increase your mobility and stimulate some of your dormant muscles.
To get the best results with stretch bands, maintain correct posture, move slowly and keep constant tension on the stretch band.
5. Choose dynamic stretching over static stretching
Whether you’re lifting weights or going for a run, dynamic stretching is a more beneficial warm-up exercise than static stretching.
While a static stretch, such as touching your toes, may help you feel loose, dynamic stretching better prepares your body for the different types of movement you will use in your upcoming workout.
An example of a dynamic stretch for someone planning to run is a knee-to-chest exercise:
- While standing, lift your knee toward your chest, then bring your foot toward the ground.
- Hug your shin as you bring your knee up so your knee cap rests against your chest.
- Alternate each leg and do this 10 times.
This stretch mimics a running stride and warms up the muscles you will use during your run.
To make some dynamic warm-ups a little easier, you can hold on to something sturdy and stable like a chair.
Ease of movement
Although there are a variety of flexibility exercises you can do, if you can find one or two that you enjoy and stick with it, you’ll reap the benefits.
Working to stay flexible can really make you feel better and help you move more easily.