Wednesday’s Ask Dr. Walt — How important is flexibility?

This Q&A was adapted from my just-released-book, Fit over 50: Make Simple Choices Today for a Healthier, Happier You. It was adapted for the September issue of Today’s Christian Living. If you don’t have a subscription, I highly recommend it.

Dear Dr. Walt,

I know it’s important to keep up our strength as we grow older, but I saw a news report that said it was just as important to keep up our flexibility. Is that true?

—Not Flexible in Florida

Dear Unbendable,

It is true that one of the biggest issues for all of us as we age is the loss of flexibility, or range of motion (ROM). Reduced ROM can cause problems ranging from inconvenience to injuries. The accumulation, over the years, of injuries to our joints may keep us from doing things we could easily do when we were younger. 

The shortening of muscles, ligaments, and tendons, mostly from disuse, reduces our ROM. With aging, our muscles lose strength and elasticity. For example, low-back flexibility is important, with an estimated 80 percent of US citizens experiencing low-back pain at some point, and it is the second leading cause of disability. contributor Nicholas White says,

“Ultimately, flexibility is about enjoying your life. By increasing your range of motion, you’ll be less prone to injury while exercising, traveling, or playing with your grandkids. You’ll feel less stiff and more comfortable in everyday activities like walking, lifting, bending, and even driving. You’ll improve your posture, circulation, and balance while relieving pain and stress.”

What’s not to like about that? 

Most folks over 50 years of age need improved strength and flexibility. The good news is, stretching is one aspect of fitness that can be done almost any time and anywhere. You just need to remember to do it.

According to Mayo Clinic, “Stretching and flexibility may take a back seat to your exercise routine. The main concern is exercising, not stretching, right? Not so fast. Stretching [and better flexibility] may help you …

  1. improve your performance in physical activities,
  2. decrease your risk of injuries,
  3. help your joints move through their full range of motion, and
  4. enable your muscles to work most effectively.”

Adapted from Fit over 50. Copyright © 2019 by Walt Larimore and Phillip Bishop. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97408. Used by permission.

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2019. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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