It’s widely accepted that flexibility and mobility for people over 40 declines significantly. While it’s an unfortunate reality, it can be managed and slowed. In this piece, we’ll look at the importance of staying flexible and mobile, the causes behind declining flexibility and mobility, and the types of exercises that can help people over 40 stay active and healthy.
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The risks associated with decreased flexibility and mobility
As you get older, the effects of decreased flexibility and mobility starts to creep in more and more. From decreased joint mobility to weakened muscles, decreased flexibility and mobility can have an immediate and long-term impact on your overall health. In particular, people over 40 years old are at an increased risk of developing a number of health issues as a result of decreased flexibility and mobility, such as:
1. Joint Pain
As flexibility and mobility decrease, so too do the range of motion and stability of your joints, increasing pain and discomfort.
As flexibility and mobility decrease, so too does the strength of your muscles and ligaments, leading to a drop in performance.
As flexibility and mobility decrease, so too does your ability to move safely and quickly, increasing your risk strains and tears.
Poor flexibility and mobility can also lead to a poor posture, which can exacerbate the effects of decreased mobility, as well as lead to back pain, neck pain, headaches, and more.
It’s important to recognize that decreased flexibility and mobility can have serious effects on both your physical and mental health so it’s important that you take steps to maintain flexibility and mobility as you age.
What causes declining flexibility and mobility
We know that with age, flexibility and mobility decline, but what causes the decline, exactly?
One of the main contributors to decreased flexibility and mobility is the decrease in muscle mass that naturally occurs as people age. As we age, our bodies produce less collagen and elastin, which are important proteins in maintaining muscle structure. This lack of collagen and elastin can cause our muscles to become stiffer, contributing to a decrease in our ability to move freely.
Another cause of decreased flexibility and mobility is a decrease in connective tissue health. Connective tissue, such as tendons and ligaments, is responsible for stabilizing and supporting our joints. As we age, our bodies produce less of the nutrient and hormone-rich fluid that nourishes our connective tissue, and this decline in fluid can lead to a decrease in our joint stability, making it more difficult to achieve and sustain certain movements.
Lastly, reduced flexibility and mobility can be caused by an increase in inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation can cause stiffness in our joints, leading to a decrease in our range of motion. Inflammation can also cause our muscles to become weaker and slower, further impacting our ability to move freely.
Fortunately, by taking the proper steps we can maintain a high level of flexibility and mobility even as we get older. Regular exercise, stretching, and using the right mobility and flexibility tools can help to improve our range of motion, reduce inflammation, and maintain muscle and connective tissue health.
Benefits of staying flexible and mobile
One of the key benefits of staying flexible and mobile is that it can help to reduce the risk of injury. As we age, our muscles and joints naturally become stiffer and less able to support us. Stretching and movement can help to restore some of that lost flexibility, which in turn helps to reduce the risk of sprains and strains.
Maintaining flexibility and mobility also helps to improve posture. As we get older, our posture can suffer as a result of our sedentary lifestyle and lack of activity. Being flexible and mobile helps to ensure our muscles, joints, and bones work in harmony, which can help prevent back pain, neck strain, and postural problems.
Staying flexible and mobile can also help to improve overall fitness levels. By engaging in regular stretching, yoga, and other forms of low-impact exercise, we can help to improve our overall strength, endurance, and stamina. This increased fitness can help to make everyday activities, such as walking and climbing stairs, easier and less tiring.
Finally, staying flexible and mobile can help to improve mental health and wellbeing. Regular physical activity, such as stretching and yoga, can help to reduce stress levels, improve mood, and even help to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
From reducing the risk of injury to improving overall fitness levels, regular physical activity and stretching can be a great way to maintain a healthy body and mind as we age.
Types of exercises to improve flexibility and mobility
Stretching should be part of everyone’s routine, regardless of age. Dynamic stretching, which involves moving the body in specific patterns, is especially important for those over 40, since it helps to improve the range of motion and reduce the risk of injury.
By committing to regular exercise and making lifestyle changes, those over 40 can dramatically improve their flexibility and mobility. Stretching, yoga, and bodyweight exercises all help to improve the range of motion and reduce the risk of injury. With a little commitment and dedication, anyone can become more flexible and mobile, regardless of age.
Here’s six of our favorite exercises for improving flexibility and mobility:
1. Deep squats
2. Cossack squats
3. World’s greatest stretch (WSG)
4. Thread the needle
5. Cobra pose
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Increasing flexibility and mobility is not just about exercise, however. Eating a nutrient-rich diet, getting enough sleep, and managing stress are also important. Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants can help to reduce inflammation and promote overall health. Getting at least seven hours of sleep each night can help to improve energy levels, while reducing stress levels through activities such as mindfulness and meditation can help to promote relaxation.