Stretching: The Fountain of Youth


Complements of Harvey W. Watt

Weights and cardio are important, but don’t forget flexibility. We are made to move. Exercise, breathing, flexibility and movement keep us feeling young and alive. However, as we age, most of us move less each day. In a society with drive–through everything, it’s easy to sit on the couch and age into immobility. But, you can choose to move, stretch and feel fantastic.

Why are flexibility and stretching important?

Youthful means flexible. Age is rigid and stiff. Even if you work out by lifting weights and doing cardio, if you don’t tend to your flexibility, your muscles and joints will become less supple. By stretching regularly, you’ll renew your body and slow down the effects of the aging process.

How does stretching enhance wellness?

A gentle yet effective stretching program benefits you in numerous ways. It:

  • Increases energy
  • Increases range of motion
  • Relieves the effects of stress
  • Relieves joint and muscle pain
  • Improves circulation
  • Improves posture
  • Enhances balance

What happens when you stretch?

Muscles and connective tissues shorten while you sleep. When you stretch, muscle fibers and connective tissues elongate and align, allowing the stretched muscles to become longer. Over time, regular stretching trains muscles to contract less after a stretch, so they become both longer and stronger. As you age, this helps prevent joint discomfort and keeps you agile and mobile.

When and how should you stretch?

A five–to–10–minute morning stretching program is ideal preparation for your body to feel good throughout the day. If your day is particularly stressful and makes your muscles tight and fatigued, do your routine at night, just before bedtime. Either way, warm up your body by exercising for at least 10 minutes before you stretch.