Doctors have been saying it for years – get your exercise. Senior citizens that get exercise are generally healthier and stronger than their friends who do not. Some research has pointed to a younger feeling body, up to ten years younger! Stretching increases blood flow which may improve tissue elasticity and muscle fiber strength.
It’s easy to get stretches in, even for people that are unable to walk for long distances. Stretching is simple and can keep muscles in good shape. Stretching can help prevent injuries associated with spastic muscles and reduce the risk of contractures. Muscles that freeze into position are known as contractures, a painful, permanent condition.
Elderly folks can do foot and calf stretches while holding on to the back of a strong, well balanced chair. The senior should have a good grip and lift their body up and down with their feet – basically standing on tip-toe. The helps stretch and strengthen the feet and calves.
Another super easy stretching exercise is the back stretch. Most people are shocked to find that simply standing with their feet spread apart shoulder-length and twisting can flex the back muscles. Twist to one side with the spine held straight and hold for five seconds. Repeat with the other side. Do this ten times each day for a healthy back.
Overhead reaches are good to start before upper mobility degenerates. Lifting the arms and reaching as high as possible helps the arm muscles stay flexible, improves joint functions, and can relieve nerve pressure. One major complaint among the elderly is loss of shoulder and arm motion. Reaching as high as possible can help prevent this loss, keeping the need for reaching and grabbing aides at bay.