Most people are aware that the American College of Sports Medicine recommends aerobics and resistance training, but did you know they have guidelines for flexibility exercise (stretching) as well? Improving flexibility means you increase the range of motion of your joints.
I always want to go grab the people who leave my water aerobics classes as soon as we begin the stretching exercises at the end and throw them back in the water. We only do ten minutes, but the guidelines suggest at least 20 minutes 2-3 days per week. Here they are:
- Adults should do flexibility exercises at least two or three days each week to improve range of motion.
- Each stretch should be held for 10-30 seconds to the point of tightness or slight discomfort.
- Repeat each stretch two to four times, accumulating 60 seconds per stretch.
- Static, dynamic, ballistic and PNF stretches are all effective.
- Flexibility exercise is most effective when the muscle is warm. Try light aerobic activity or a hot bath to warm the muscles before stretching.
Adaptations for Seniors:
- Skip the ballistic stretching–that means bouncing. Long, slow stretches of up to 60 seconds are most beneficial for the older age group.
- Stretch after a workout. Use the spa at your gym if you can tolerate the heat well.
- Work up to 60-second stretches over a period of a couple of weeks. You didn’t get stiff overnight!
- Breathe deeply as you stretch. Especially avoid holding your breath.
Visit stretching-exercises-guide.com for lots of information on stretching exercises, and get started this week—right after your next workout!