Step by Step: Limber bodies look, feel youthful
By SALLY ANDERSON
Published November 29, 2005
You can look and feel younger just by changing the way your body moves. Flexibility is a joint's ability to move freely in every direction. Regardless of age, a healthy body is a limber body.
The benefits of stretching are huge. Stretching the muscles and keeping the joints loose will help you walk without stiffness, improve posture, reduce muscle tension and make everyday movements easier to perform.
Studies show that sedentary lifestyles have more to do with loss of flexibility than the biological aging processes. We may be born with considerable flexibility, but as we age, most people tend to neglect movement, which will maintain some of that flexibility.
Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for American Council of Exercise, said consistent stretching maintains our range of motion as we get older.
"That's something people don't think about until they reach up to put away the groceries and they suddenly can't reach above their shoulders. People spend a lot of time on cardio and strength, but when it comes to the third component of fitness - flexibility - people don't give it the respect it deserves."
- Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but cannot respond to individual queries. Write her in care of Seniority, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
TIPS FOR STRETCHING
Stretching should never hurt, it should be pain-free.
It is better to understretch than overstretch.
Stretch slowly with control; avoid jerky, bouncing movements.
Always warm up before you stretch; try not to stretch on cold muscles.
Stretch until you feel mild tension, then hold for 5 to 10 seconds - more if desired.
Do each stretching exercise 3 to 5 times.
If you are participating in physical activity, always stretch after the workout.
Be sure to stretch the back and chest muscles - a limber and strong spine is vital for performing every activity.
Avoid locking joints; always have a very small amount of bending in your joints, a protection against tearing ligaments and connective tissue.
Never hold your breath while stretching.
If possible, combine strengthening exercises with stretching exercises.
Check with your physician if you are just beginning to develop a stretching program, especially if you have recently had a hip or knee replacement.
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"The doctor of the future will give no medicine but interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease."
- THOMAS EDISON
[Last modified November 23, 2005, 13:54:06]
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