The Cognitive and Physical Benefits of Stretching for Seniors
As we age, stretching becomes more important for our overall health and wellness. Not only does it help maintain our physical health, but it also has numerous cognitive benefits. From reducing stress and anxiety to improving our memory and brain function, seniors who regularly stretch and engage in physical activity see a significant improvement in their quality of life.
Physical Benefits of Stretching for Older Adults
Improves Posture: Poor posture becomes more common as we get older, leading to back and neck pain. Regular stretching can help improve posture by strengthening the muscles that support the spine and neck.
Increases Flexibility: Flexibility naturally decreases over time, but stretching can help maintain and even improve flexibility.
Releases Muscle Tension & Soreness: Stretching helps to improve blood flow to the muscles by increasing circulation and oxygenation. This increased blood flow helps reduce soreness and promotes healing.
Reduces Risk of Injury: As we age, our bodies naturally lose muscle mass, strength, and flexibility, making it more difficult to recover from injuries and increasing the risk of falls and other accidents. By incorporating regular stretching into their routine, seniors can improve their flexibility and range of motion, reducing the risk of injury.
Increases Circulation: Stretching can help seniors maintain healthy circulation, reducing the risk of falls, stroke, and heart attack. Improved circulation can also promote healing and reduce pain and discomfort.
Improves Balance & Coordination: Your body awareness will improve as you stretch and exercise more regularly, improving your balance and reducing your risk of falls. Plus, stretching loosens tight muscles and improves overall coordination.
Improves Muscle Control: Stretching helps improve muscle control, which can increase overall physical function.
Cognitive Benefits of Stretching for Seniors
Improves Focus: Stretching enhances your ability to focus and concentrate, which can help seniors better engage with daily activities.
Reduces Stress & Feelings of Anxiety: Regular stretching can help reduce stress and feelings of anxiety by promoting relaxation and reducing muscle tension
Slows Cognitive Decline: Studies have found that regular exercise (including stretching) may slow cognitive decline and improve brain function in seniors.
Enhances Sense of Well-Being: Stretching promotes relaxation and helps improve overall physical function and mobility, enhancing a senior’s sense of well-being.
What Happens if You Don’t Stretch as You Get Older?
Without regular stretching, muscles can weaken over time, making it harder to perform daily activities like walking and climbing stairs. Lack of flexibility can also lead to poor posture, which can cause back and neck pain and contribute to balance and coordination issues.
Can You Gain Flexibility After 70?
While aging can lead to a natural decline in flexibility, gaining flexibility after 70 through regular stretching and exercise is possible.
How Much and How Often Should Seniors Stretch?
The amount and frequency of stretching for seniors can vary depending on individual fitness levels, health conditions, and physical limitations. As a general guideline, seniors should aim for at least two to three days of stretching exercises each week and stretch each major muscle group for 10-30 seconds per session. It’s important to start slowly and ease into a stretching routine, gradually increasing the frequency, intensity, and duration of stretches as your body becomes more accustomed to the activity.
Stretching Safety Tips
Talk to Your Doctor: Before starting any new exercise routine, seniors should always consult their doctor to assess their fitness level and ensure it is safe to engage in physical activity.
Ease Into It: To reduce your risk of injury, start any new stretching routine slowly and modify your exercises gradually, increasing the intensity and duration as needed.
Avoid Bouncing: Bouncing or sudden movements during stretches can cause injury to anyone (of any age). Stretches should always be performed slowly, without too much force.
Listen to Your Body: Seniors should pay attention to how they feel and avoid any positions or movements that cause pain or discomfort.
Stretch Both Sides: You should always stretch both sides of the body evenly to maintain balance and symmetry.
Use Proper Form: Seniors should use proper form during stretching to prevent injury and ensure they target the intended muscle groups. Stretching in front of a mirror or with a buddy can help you.
Stay Hydrated: Seniors should drink plenty of water before, during, and after stretching. Your muscles won’t be able to expand and contract appropriately if you’re dehydrated!
Consider Working with a Professional: Seniors new to stretching may benefit from working with a professional, like a physical therapist or personal trainer, to ensure they use the proper form and techniques appropriate for their needs and fitness level.
Take Part in a Wellness Program at Roland Park Place
Roland Park Place offers a wide range of fitness and wellness programs for seniors of all fitness levels.Our experienced and certified staff members are here to help you achieve your health and wellness goals in a safe and supportive environment.
Contact us today to learn more about our extraordinary senior living community and how we can help you live your best life for many years to come!