Learn More About Balance & Flexibility exercises

3m425a/ October 9, 2021/ Games, News and Technology, Sport/ 0 comments

Our sense of balance typically worsens as we age. It can be further compromised by medical conditions like neuropathy (a complication of diabetes or certain chemotherapy drugs) that can cause tingling, pain, and numbness in the feet; side effects from other medications; uncorrected vision problems; or a lack of flexibility. Poor balance often leads to falls, which can cause head injuries and temporarily or permanently disabling injuries to the bones and nervous system. Hip fractures, particularly, can lead to serious health complications and can impair independence.

Older adults at risk for falls can benefit from a combination of walking, strength training, and balance exercises. Balance-enhancing activities include tai chi, yoga, and Pilates. Strength training exercises that work core muscles in your abdomen and back also help with balance.

How much should you do?
For older adults at risk for falls, the guidelines recommend 30 minutes of balance training and muscle strengthening exercises three times a week, plus at least 30 minutes of walking activities twice or more weekly.

Flexibility exercises like stretching and yoga gently reverse the shortening and tightening of muscles that typically occur with disuse and age. Shorter, stiffer muscle fibers may make you vulnerable to injuries and contribute to back pain and balance problems.

Frequently performing exercises that isolate and stretch elastic fibers surrounding muscles and tendons helps counteract this. A well-stretched muscle more easily achieves its full range of motion. This improves athletic performance—imagine an easier, less restricted golf swing or tennis serve—and functional abilities, such as reaching, bending, or stooping during daily tasks. Stretching can also be a great way to get you moving in the morning or a way to relax after a long day. Activities such as yoga combine stretching and relaxation and also improve balance, a wonderful combination.

However, note that experts no longer recommend stretching before exercise. Prolonged stretching impedes the maximum contractile force of muscles. For example, stretching prior to jumping decreases jump height. Instead, experts now recommend starting off your exercise with a warm-up, such as an easy walk or a sport-specific routine such as serving some tennis balls and practicing ground strokes before a match. This increases the movement of blood and oxygen to the muscles. Then, when muscles are warm and pliable—for example, after five to 10 minutes of exercise—you can stretch. Or, even better, do your flexibility exercises as your post-workout cool-down.

How much should you do?
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans present no specific recommendations for making flexibility exercises part of your routine. However, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that older adults do flexibility exercises on the same days as aerobic or strength activities, or at least twice a week.

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