Senior woman stretching. Stretching is especially beneficial for seniors who may be dealing with compromised mobility, flexibility and posture.

The Health Benefits Of Stretching

Years of activity, whether walking or jogging or even just the typical activities of life, can take a toll on muscles and joints. Some people think that stretching is just for athletes or that it is too time consuming to do regularly. In fact, stretching is highly beneficial for everyone, regardless of activity level or age. Here are some reasons to make it part of your daily routine. 

Benefits of Stretching for Seniors

Stretching offers numerous benefits for people of all ages, but it can be especially beneficial for seniors who may be dealing with compromised mobility, flexibility and posture. Daily stretching helps lengthen muscles and tendons in response to movement, thereby promoting flexibility. It also improves range of motion in the joints, which can also help prevent future injuries. Here are some additional benefits of stretching for seniors: 

  • Helps promote blood and oxygen circulation. 
  • Reduces chronic pain. 
  • Helps make the activities of daily living easier. For example, getting in and out of bed, getting dressed. 
  • Aids in maintaining independence for a longer period of time. 
  • Helps maintain or improve balance, which can prevent slips, trips and falls. 
  • Reduces stress, calms emotions and may improve quality of sleep.

Tips for Starting a Stretching Program 

Stretching does not require a huge level of effort or a significant time commitment. In fact, benefits can be achieved from stretching for just 10 or 15 minutes each day. The key is to start out small and then work up to longer and more varied stretch sessions. Of course, before starting any new program, be sure to check with your healthcare provider. Here are some tips to get started: 

  • Wear comfortable, non-skid footwear to avoid potential slips. 
  • Opt for clothing that is comfortable, but not so loose or drapey that it could be a trip hazard. 
  • Take a short walk or march in place before stretching in order to warm up the muscles.
  • Keep movements smooth and avoid bouncing while stretching as this can lead to strains or small tears in muscles or ligaments. 
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose and breathe out slowly through your mouth. This can help increase the flow of oxygen and lower stress levels. 
  • Stop immediately if you feel pain at any time while stretching. It is natural to feel muscle tension or tightness, but not pain.
  • Start small, such as five minutes per day, and then increase the length of time from there. 
  • Consider joining a senior stretch class or a yoga class. A scheduled group activity can provide motivation and socialization too. 

Areas of Focus 

Experts suggest aiming to stretch the major muscle groups at least two to three times per week. Focus on one area of the body at a time, and try to hold each stretch for up to 60 seconds. If it is not possible to hold the stretch for 60 seconds, try holding it twice for 30 seconds each or three times for 20 seconds each. Suggested areas of focus are: the neck, shoulders, upper arms, chest, midsection, lower back, hips, legs and ankles. The benefits of stretching will probably not be seen instantly, but its cumulative effects will benefit your well-being over time.

A Lifestyle-Focused Senior Living Community
At The Maples, we believe that even active seniors need a bridge to keep them going strong on the journey. We offer a variety of activities designed to enrich the daily lives of our residents, including fitness and wellness programs. Contact us to learn more about our lifestyle and amenities or to schedule an in-person or virtual tour.