Thursday, August 23, 2012

Aging's effect on strength and flexibility

Think you’re too young to worry about loss of strength and flexibility? You are WRONG! It is never too early to start preparing your body for the aging process. The human body peaks around the age of 25 in both strength and flexibility. From there, without proper care and training, your body’s functionality starts to go downhill (i.e. it starts getting hard to move and do every day activities). This is what happens, your muscles start to atrophy (weaken) and your flexibility decreases. The combination of these two events cause everyday movements such as bending over and getting up harder and harder as we age. This isn’t to scare you, especially if you are in your 30s, 40s, 50s or older. You can improve your body’s function and even reverse the signs of aging! 

So…no matter your age, incorporate these exercises into your daily life.

Stand ups. Don’t roll your eyes. Think about it. Getting out of chairs, off the sofa or out of the car can be very difficult for older people. Therefore, training your muscles to do this everyday, important movement can be just what your body needs to jump out of whatever seat you’re in for the rest of your life.
How to: Sit in a chair or on your couch and without using your arms to push or pull yourself up, simply stand up. Repeat 20 times in a row. You’ll be strengthening your abdominals and lower body as well as stretching out your lower back.

Pick ups. That’s right, picking things up off the floor around your house can keep you young. So be intentional about picking up one item at a time so that you have to keep bending over to pick up every item individually. If you, like me, keep an immaculate house, clutter free (HA!), then throw some stuff on the floor and get to work OR better yet, go and pick up trash in your neighborhood or favorite park!

            How to: Bend over from the waist, keeping your knees slightly bent, pick up an item and stand back up to straight while rolling your shoulders back and down. You will be stretching out the hamstrings, lower back and strengthening your abs, lower back (as you stand up), lower body PLUS improving your posture with a roll of your shoulders.

Stretches. Keep that body limber and moving freely with a few stretches.

            How to: Hold each of these stretches for 30 seconds or more a day
·         Hamstring Stretch: bend at the waist and let your upper body and arms hang down with the intent to touch the toes
·         Lower back stretch: start down on the ground on all fours and push your hips back so that your butt rests on your heels while stretching your hands out in front of you…walking them away from the body (also called Child’s Pose in yoga)
·         Chest and shoulder stretch: interlace your fingers behind your back. Push your hands down and then pull up until you feel a great stretch across your chest and shoulders.

A few more ways to keep your body young:
  • Take the stairs
  • Lift weights
  • Do cardio at least 5 days a week for 20 minutes
  • Walk…a lot…
  • Yoga!

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