Stretching for healthy ageing

Spending most of your day sitting down can lead to stiff and aching joints. But there is a easy way of avoiding this. Stretching. This is a simple, yet enormously beneficial exercise that even the most rusty of joints will appreciate!

Stretching doesn’t require any special equipment, nor expensive membership fees. Indeed you can stretch at any time wherever you like, even while lying in bed. Stretching benefits fitness levels by giving your circulation a boost as well as enhancing muscle repair and countering stress.

Stretching exercises are useful at different times of the day depending what you’ve been doing. For instance, when you’re resting or sitting for long periods of time, your muscles contract and you may begin to feel stiff or your joints may ache. Stretching helps lengthen and loosen your muscles while helping restore their flexibility.

The safest stretches are called static stretching. They can be performed while standing, sitting or lying down so they’re a good choice if you’re deskbound for any length of time. They’re also useful for cooling down after strenuous exercise to reduce the likelihood of sore muscles.

Static stretches can help to improve posture and reduce lower back pain while helping relieve muscle tension and prevent stiffness. They work by stretching your muscles to a point of resistance and then holding the position for between 10 and 30 seconds.

The following static stretches can be done while lying down or sitting.

  • Lie on your back and alternately pull your knees up to your chest. Repeat this 10 times.

  • Straighten one leg out in front of you and point your toes skywards and hold for 5 seconds. Then point your toes straight down. Repeat.

  • Arm Stretch: Sit or stand with your back straight and clasp your hands together above your head. Interlock your fingers and reach above your head while taking slow, deep breaths.

Before taking part in more strenuous exercise we need to warm up first. These warm up exercises usually involve slightly more strenuous stretches called ballistic stretching. Ballistic stretches use larger muscle groups and can increase the elasticity of your muscles by giving you more flexibility and coordination as well as boosting circulation. But always make sure you stretch in a warm room as stretching cold muscles may cause you injury.

  • Arm Swings: While standing straight, swing both of your arms up above your head then drop them forward and swing them backwards then back up again. Continue with this circular motion 8-10 times.

  • Lunges: From a standing position take one large stride forward with your left leg. Slowly bend your left knee while lowering your body and flexing your right foot. Push your weight onto the heel of your front foot then return to starting position and repeat with your right leg.

Incorporating a few stretches into your everyday life doesn’t need to take up much time. Indeed, you can do them while watching television, sitting at your desk or even preparing a meal. Start loosening up those creaky joints and you may be pleasantly surprised just how good stretching can feel. ​