F is for flexibility: Want to stay limber as you age? If so, your workout routine should include stretches for flexibility. Here are the exercises from our 10-week workout program that will help you:
- Seated trapezius stretch
- Shoulder stretch
- Triceps stretch
- Lower back
- Hip flexor stretch in three planes
- Hamstring stretch
- Quadriceps stretch
- Calf stretch
Here's what you need to know about building flexibility into your workout routine, adapted from Fitness After 40 by Vonda Wright, M.D.
Flexibility is the ability of muscle to lengthen and allow your joints to move through a full range of motion. Maintaining muscle flexibility increases athletic performance, improves running economy (energy expenditure at a given speed), prevents injury, decreases soreness, and hastens rehabilitation following injury.
Once you work up to it, you must stretch every day for 15 minutes. If morning doesn't work for you, take 45 minutes at lunch instead of an hour, and use the other 15 to stretch. You can break the stretching regimen up over the course of the day and do one body part at a time.
For people under 65 years old, maximum benefit is achieved with a slow muscle stretch until the muscle feels tight but doesn't hurt. Once you reach this place, hold the stretch for 30 seconds without bouncing. After 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and then repeat the stretch for a maximum of four repetitions. If you are older than 65, you need to hold the stretch for 60 seconds. It takes about six weeks of consistent stretching to see good results, and then you must maintain your muscle length by continuing daily stretches.