We all know how important physical activity is for maintaining good health in seniors. Whether it’s a walk, water aerobics class, or even light weightlifting, keeping an active lifestyle and getting your body moving every day is paramount to long-term health. One part of physical fitness that many overlook is flexibility. Flexibility can bring huge health returns to older adults. It’s a great way to get your blood pumping in the morning and reduce stiffness. It’s also ideal for winding down in the evening before bed. For seniors with a regular workout or activity schedule, a simple 10-minute stretch before can help warm up the body and provide tons of healthy perks.

Here are five major benefits of incorporating a stretching routine into your daily activity:

1. Prevents Injury

Properly preparing for physical activity is a huge factor in injury prevention. Even an activity as seemingly harmless or low impact as walking a dog can put a senior at risk for injury without the proper preparation. Adding a pre-activity stretching routine can go greatly decrease the risk of injury and even help a senior perform better at their chosen workout.

2. Aids in Muscle and Joint Health

Stretching engages muscles and joints in a way that other activities can’t. For older adults who may be losing muscle strength or experiencing diminishing joint health, stretching is a great way to build it back up and prevent future decline. Stretching loosens joints by activating fluids within them that can reduce the chance of damage caused by friction. It also lengthens muscles which makes them much less susceptible to being pulled or strained.

3. Decreases Chronic Pain

As we age, chronic pain often becomes an unfortunate part of daily life for seniors. Osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis, two of the most common forms of chronic pain, are both a natural part of aging, however the pain they cause can be managed and even minimized through stretching. Stretching can reduce stiffness in afflicted joints causing a reduction in pain and negative symptoms.

4. Decreases Risk of Falling

Each year, one out of three adults ages 65 and older experience a fall. This number can be greatly reduced through stretching! Stretching aids in balance and stability, both of which are great ways to prevent falling. In particular, improving flexibility in hamstrings, quadriceps, hips, and the lower back are essential to decreasing the risk of falling.

5. Improves Ability to Perform Daily Tasks

At the end of the day, anything you can do to improve quality of life is worth doing, and stretching is an easy way to do exactly that. Performing a quick 10-minute stretch can pay dividends in helping seniors perform daily tasks and taking part in activities they’re passionate about, whether that be salsa dancing, crocheting, or taking care of a pet.

At St. Martin’s in the Pines, we’re proud to promote healthy living for our residents. For more information on our community, please click here today to schedule a tour.