When I was young visiting with my grandparents, I remember watching a lady on TV sit and give instructions to stretch and move while sitting in a chair. I remember thinking how silly and pointless that was since I could do all kinds of folds and backbends. Little did I know how important and impactful she was and still is to the fitness and aging community.
As we age, maintaining mobility becomes more and more difficult.
Muscles and joints weaken, and our range of movement deteriorates. According to Nestlehealthscience.com, as early as the age of 30, adults can start losing 3-8% of muscle mass per decade, and by the time we reach 40, we slowly begin to lose bone mass. With muscle mass going out, it transfers over to flexibility every ten years. We can lose 6 to 7 degrees of hip flexion per decade and 5 to 6 degrees in shoulder abduction per decade. It’s easy to see how becoming more and more immobile can negatively impact our quality of life over time.
Think about how most of the elderly you see every day and how they move. Some have trouble standing up and simply walking, let alone bending over to pick something up. Some have a “bad shoulder” or knee. In the past, when someone would have any knee surgery or a replacement, the patients would rest for a few days then slowly recover. Today the rehab begins the same day as the surgery. Doctors typically want you moving and bending that knee right away. The idea is if you don’t use it, you lose it.
So what can you do?
Simply put, stretch. Find a simple and short stretch routine you can practice regularly. Take a friend and go to a beginner’s yoga class because, guess what, there’s a lot of stretching and flexibility going on there. Or join my friend Mary Ann Wilson and YouTube her Sit and Be Fit series. Many of us don’t care to break a sweat or breathe super hard, but you don’t have to with stretching. Just bend and move your joints to get some blood flow and feel the stretch. It’s incredible how much better you’ll even sleep after you get a good stretch in.
To convince you a little more, here are a few fun facts:
- Stretching reduces low back pain and arthritis.
- Stretching helps maintain balance and reduces the risk of falling.
- Stretching helps improve poor posture.
- Stretching increases blood flow and energy levels.
Age is only a number, and doing nothing will not help the aging process. For many older adults, maintaining mobility can be difficult. Muscles and joints weaken, and the range of movement deteriorates. Everyone has the right to feel good and age well at any stage of their life.
To learn more about maintaining mobility by practicing yoga, listen to my podcast on the topic, Health & Wealth episode 9, where my special guest is yoga instructor Lindsay Immel. The podcast goes into greater detail about yoga, its’ benefits and who should be taking a look at this healthy fitness/wellness activity and her Vimeo channel full of free yoga classes. Hope you enjoy the podcast as much as I did recording it!
Lindsay Immel and Mary Ann Wilson not affiliated with LPL or Allen & Co.