Flexibility (in addition to strength training and balance) is the third component for proactive seniors to consider in their quest for independent living.
Flexibility, as defined by Marilyn Moffatt in Age-Defying Fitness is the ability of the body to bend without breaking. Being limber makes it easier for you to move when it comes to doing something like tying your own shoes. Flexibility training involves your joints, muscles and your connective tissue, and you need to workout regularly to keep them from stiffening up.
Flexibility decreases as you age (as a result of inactivity and changes in your body structure), and you may already have noticed a decrease in your range of motion and your ability to move fluidly.
Flexibility or staying limber helps you balance and perform your activities of daily living without pain. Flexibility reduces muscle tension, improves coordination, promotes good circulation, develops body awareness and improves your coordination. You can see why flexibility is in the top three when it comes to health and independence. You may not be able to control heart disease or other age related organ failures, but you can control the big three and maintain some control over your lives.
If you stretch your muscles, ligaments, and joints regularly you can avoid some of these problems and stay flexible.
Osteoarthritis, arthritis and other diseases that affect the joints and muscles, make it harder to maintain flexibility. Because pain makes exercise painful a vicious cycle may ensure, which leads to decreased motion and even more stiffness. Even so, after appropriate treatment an exercise program is recommended in order to enhance physical activity and function ability.
Speak to your physician and a physical therapist if you have medical conditions that would require a special program. Be serious about your quest for fitness and reap the rewards.
Source: Age-Defying Fitness by Marilyn Moffat, PT, PhD, FAPTA and Carole B. Lewis, PT, PhD, FAPT