Stretching can slow down ageing: For a youthful stronger flexible body despite your age stretch daily.
Are you finding it difficult to sit on low chairs or on the floor? Are your shoulders beginning to look stooped or rounded? Can you easily do deep sweeping arm circles or you turn your head to look over your shoulder without feeling discomfort?
Do you believe that your reduced flexibility and lack of tone is a natural sign of ageing? Or do you believe that the only way to keep your muscles toned is by working out at the gym?
The good news is that neither of these two beliefs is true.
Are you wondering why the average person should even care about flexibility and muscle tone?
Well, reduced flexibility affects not only our posture but also our ability to enjoy everyday activities with ease and grace. Little things become harder to do.
For instance, do you have to stand on something to help you reach the upper shelves in your cupboard where once you could just reach up easily?
Do you find you can’t bend and stretch as easily as you used to? Is this affecting your game of golf or tennis?
These might all just seem like the little ’nuisances of ageing’ but unless we begin to actively move our bodies and increase our joints’ ranges of motion, the degenerating process becomes self-perpetuating. This then further reduces the activities you can do and increases the strain on joints as your body can no longer move freely.
And it isn’t just your body that declines. Being sedentary shrinks your brain, affecting your memory and cognitive abilities. Your circulation slows, arteries clog, and your sex life suffers.
When you’re feeling tired and weak you don’t feel like physical activity. Of course, this just hastens even more decreased flexibility and muscle loss.
Before you realise it, even if you’re only in your 40s, 50s, or 60s, you’re looking and feeling ‘old’ and not always able to do the things that you would like to do.
Not only do you look and feel old your body is actually ageing prematurely!
Fortunately, you don’t need to follow this pathway. Even if you are already on it, you can take easy action to begin reversing this trend.
The 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to German scientists for demonstrating that “The fitter a person is in middle-age or onward, the younger their cells.”
In other words, you can slow your rate of ageing by staying strong – or you can grow old faster by allowing your body to become weak and frail.
Several new studies have revealed the benefits of stretching.
Recent studies conducted in Aged Care Nursing Homes in Australia revealed an across-the-board improvement of 12% in all participates in a period of 12 weeks of stretching. Each person was only stretching to their individual capacity.
In another study it was found that a regular stretching program may actually enhance performance, making people stronger and increasing their endurance.
“Stretching appears to do more than just increase range of motion,” says Arnold Nelson, an associate professor of kinesiology at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
Professor Nelson also noted that stretching “may especially benefit people who need exercise the most but are too weak to lift weights or get moving”.
“Stretching can be a good place for them to start on a path to wellness.”
In another study, exercise physiologist Michael Brack, a spokesperson for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), divided 38 mostly sedentary people into two groups.
One group did not do any stretching exercises during a 10-week period, while the other group engaged in a program that required stretching a few times a week.
Nobody was surprised that the group that stretched became measurably more flexible, but the additional results really shook up the researcher’s beliefs about the benefits of stretching.
The group that did the stretching also increased their strength, as measured by their ability to perform on weight machines, by an average of 30%.
Results showed that the people in the control group (the ones that didn’t stretch) saw no improvements in any of these areas.
“This study shows that a consistent stretching program in the absence of any strength training can significantly increase muscle strength on its own,” said Michael Brack.
Given that research is showing us that it is possible to build and tone the extra muscle you need to stay lean, fit, healthy and active by stretching, isn’t it time that you included some stretching into your life on a regular basis?
The types of stretching that will increase flexibility and build a stronger more toned body include Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi. So go and look for a reputable centre that has qualified trainers in your area.
Even 15 minutes a day at home will make a big difference to how your body feels and looks.
Remember, the fitter your body the younger your cells will be.
Strength and flexibility equals a more youthful body!
Isn’t it time to get stretching daily?
Supporting you to Get Well, Stay Well and Flourish!