The arrival of blue skies, sunny days and warm weather in springtime means summer is on its way. It also means something else for older adults who may have spent the winter hibernating inside: the perfect opportunity to get moving. But whether your aging loved one is a daily walking enthusiast or only interested in minimal activity, stretching is an important part of the exercise equation, and can be done nearly anywhere at anytime. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of stretching for seniors, along with some simple ways to help them make stretching part of their lives.
Why Stretching Matters
As humans age, we often develop bad habits resulting in poor posture, limited flexibility and improper body alignment. Unfortunately, the less we use our bodies, the less comfortable they become while being used. While this can happen to anyone, older adults are particularly vulnerable to this unhealthy cycle. The best way to avoid this phenomenon and remain agile? Stretching.
In addition to helping the body stay limber, stretching has other benefits, including pain relief, reduced stress, better circulation, improved self-confidence and independence, and an overall feeling of improved wellbeing.
NIHSeniorHealth has compiled a number of exercises, accompanied by helpful videos, aimed at helping seniors increase their flexibility. The Mayo Clinic also offers a collection of how-to videos for entry-level exercisers. Many senior centers, local YMCAs, and fitness clubs offer classes specifically for seniors aimed at building balance and flexibility. An added benefit of participating in these types of classes? Plenty of opportunities for socializing! Each of these options can be a useful starting point for seniors -- just be sure to check in with your aging loved one’s physician before beginning a new fitness regimen.
Unfortunately, some aging adults may be resistant to stretching for a variety of reasons, ranging from a fear of getting hurt to thinking it’s a waste of time. A physical therapist can offer invaluable partnership in helping seniors feel safe and motivated to begin a stretching routine. Physical therapists also understand the body’s movements and can offer stretches targeted to meet your aging loved one’s individual needs and abilities.
With baseball season upon us, why save the stretching for the seventh inning? The sooner your loved ones start incorporating stretching into their lives, the sooner they’ll begin to realize all of the beautiful benefits of enhanced flexibility.
Spring is the perfect opportunity for older adults to take steps toward better flexibility and overall fitness.
In addition to enhanced flexibility, stretching offers a number of other benefits for the body and soul.
There are creative ways to get your aging loved one stretching, including everything from online videos to physical therapy.
Stretching classes for aging adults also offer valuable opportunities for socialization.
About Marissa Salvesen
My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!
Connect with Marissa Salvesen
Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.