Older adults in particular should include exercises to maintain or improve balance in their routine exercises. This is important because balance tends to deteriorate with age, which can lead to falls and fractures. However, anyone can benefit from balance training, as it can help stabilize your core muscles. Try standing on one leg for increasing periods of time to improve your overall stability. Activities such as tai chi can promote balance, too.
Flexibility and stretching
Flexibility is an important part of physical fitness. Some types of physical activity, such as dancing, require more flexibility than others. Stretching exercises are effective in increasing flexibility, and thereby can allow people to more easily do activities that require greater flexibility. Stretching also improves the range of motion of your joints and promotes better posture. Regular stretching can even help relieve stress. For this reason, stretching and flexibility activities are an appropriate part of a physical activity program.
Before you stretch, warm up by walking or doing a favorite exercise at low intensity for five to 10 minutes. Better yet, stretch after you exercise — when your muscles are warm and receptive to stretching. Ideally, you'll stretch whenever you exercise. If you don't exercise regularly, you might want to stretch at least three times a week after warming up to maintain flexibility. Activities such as yoga promote flexibility, too.
Cover all the bases
Whether you create your own fitness training program or enlist the help of a personal trainer, your overall exercise plan should include several elements. Aim to incorporate aerobic fitness, strength training, core exercises, balance training, and flexibility and stretching into your exercise plan. It isn't necessary to fit each of these elements into every fitness session, but factoring them into your regular routine can help you promote fitness for life.
July 25, 2014
See more In-depth
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- Bushman BA, ed., et al. ACSM's Resources for the Personal Trainer. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolters Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2014:129.
- 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.health.gov/PAGUIDELINES/guidelines/default.aspx. Accessed June 9, 2014.
- Willardson JM. Core stability training: Applications to sports conditioning programs. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2007;21:979.
- Akuthota V, et al. Core stability exercise principles. Current Sports Medicine Reports. 2008;7:39.
- Warm up, cool down and be flexible. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00310. Accessed June 9, 2014.
- Micheo W, et al. Basic principles regarding strength, flexibility and stability exercises. PM&R. 2012;4:805.
- Morey MC. Physical activity and exercise in older adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 9, 2014.