Women over 40 do weight training and cardio workouts to keep their bones strong and their hearts healthy. But there is one pillar of fitness that’s often neglected. That's a regular stretching routine done separately from warmups and cooldowns. It might seem like a hassle to add a stand-alone stretching program to your workout schedule. But there is a huge payoff in store for your efforts. Reduced stress levels, injury prevention and faster recovery are only the start! Read on to discover how a few minutes spent in daily stretching improves your body, mind and spirit in 9 different ways:
Not only can stretching help with your stress levels, but it can also improve mood and just generally makes you feel better, says Jacque Crockford, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Many women over 40 face demanding careers, the challenges of caring for children and aging parents. Stress reduction gained from a stretch session is relaxing and energizing and costs nothing.
"When you stretch, you elongate your muscles around the joints which helps to increase the range of motion and in turn helps to avoid injury,” says fitness trainer Joel Harper. Increasing blood flow also brings nutrients into the muscle cells to aid in recovery.
If you consistently move your body through a certain range of motion, your body will reinforce and protect it. It becomes the “new normal.”People experience a total increase in flexibility and fewer overuse injuries when they stretch on a regular basis,” says Sage Rountree, triathlete and yoga teacher. “ Getting into a daily stretching routine can help you to regain some of the flexibility lost through the again process.
“While it’s definitely worth your time to restore your muscle length with a stretch after your workout, you should also consider a general stretching routine as its own workout, to be done separately. The benefits you’ll reap from cultivating flexibility are numerous: You can elevate your overall fitness, improve performance and possibly reduce your risk of injury.” Michael Boyle, strength-training and conditioning coach. What’s not to love about this?
General stretching programs performed regularly as stand-alone exercise (as opposed to before or after any specific fitness activity), do appear to help prevent injuries. Sage Rountree, a triathlete and yoga teacher based in North Carolina says. “People experience a total increase in flexibility and fewer overuse injuries when they stretch on a regular basis.” Stretching out both sides of the body equally helps to remedy muscular imbalances that occur when one side of the body gets worked more than the other does.
“Internally, a flexibility workout routine can help promote blood circulation, to the brain, heart, limbs and practically all parts of your body. Because it's not only about the movements of the body parts you see outside when you work out. Your systems inside are moving too! Your lymphatic system works better due to your physical movements. As a result, your body gets the chance to have a better fluid drainage.” - MyMenopauseJourney.com
“There is a certain degree of joint stiffness to be expected with age, but that’s where flexibility and mobility training come in handy. This type of training will ensure that your body can move easily and without pain. For those with a family history of arthritis or other joint problems, it’s vital to engage in this type of training.” - Karen Reed, managing editor at Positive Health Wellness
“Find a way to incorporate stretching into your life. Maybe its fifteen minutes every morning when you get up, maybe its half an hour after your workout, maybe its three one hour sessions a week. Set it, and stick to it. Get an accountability buddy. Fall in love with stretching. Keep doing it; you will get more flexible.” - Fitandbendy.com
A few minutes a day is all it takes to see massive improvements over time,” Grayson Wickham, PT, DPT, CSCS, reminds us. “We are weakest in these end-ranges of motions, but activating the muscles in this way helps increase flexibility, prime the nervous system, and strengthen the joint.”
A stretching routine started in your 40s helps maintain your mobility into your 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond.
Keeping your mobility intact helps you do those everyday tasks that get harder with age. Things like tying your shoes and lifting your laundry basket up from the floor get a little tougher every year. Not to mention keeping up with your kids and grandchildren! So start stretching now to stay active well into the future.
Are you ready to start a new stretching routine? We're here to help! We’re launching a new FREE stretching app in January. Sign up for launch updates - and you’ll be one of the first to know when We Stretch is released to the public.