As our loved ones age, it is important that they attempt to stay limber and flexible to increase range of motion and maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle. Daily stretching can improve seniors’ flexibility and athleticism, give more energy for daily tasks and help prevent injury.
Adding stretching into a senior’s routine
Staying physically active as we age is essential for a better quality of life overall. Exercise is key to maintaining strong bones and delays the onset of diseases like diabetes. It also improves mood and mental health and is a big role in fall prevention.
If a senior is already exercising on a regular basis, even with simple daily walks, it is important to ensure they are taking the time to properly stretch to loosen joints and lengthen muscles. If stretching and exercise is not currently a part of your loved one’s daily routine, talk to the activities director at their seniors’ residence to find out what exercise options are available. There should be a senior’s gentle stretching class available at least once a week to encourage residents to join group exercise.
Effective stretching for seniors
Stretching classes in Niagara retirement and assisted living residences will follow these steps to ensure residents are stretching effectively and safely:
While stretching is usually thought to be the warm up, a gentle exercise class will incorporate a warm up exercise to loosen muscles to avoid injury.
Slow and steady stretches
It is important to ease slowly into stretching with steady movements. While some mild pulling is encouraged, it shouldn’t be painful. It will take some time to loosen muscles up, so the fitness instructor will ensure seniors are not stretching too far and are not bouncing to reach farther.
Breathing is a very important part of stretching — never hold your breath. The seniors’ fitness instructor will teach residents to breathe into the stretch to carefully reach further each time.
Hold that stretch
For stretches to effectively elongate muscles, they should be held for at least 30 seconds each. As the stretches are repeated and breathing exercises are used, seniors should try to stretch slightly further each time.
As always, when starting any new physical activity, have your loved one talk to their doctor or health care professions to determine the best plan and routine for their health needs.