Older adults in particular should include in their routine exercises to maintain or improve balance. This is important because balance tends to deteriorate with age, which can lead to falls and fractures. 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, aerobic fitness, strength training and core exercises, balance training, and stretching and flexibility should be part of your overall 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.
Sep. 03, 2011
See more In-depth
- Physical activity and public health guidelines. American College of Sports Medicine. http://www.acsm.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home_Page&TEMPLATE=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&CONTENTID=7764. Accessed Aug. 5, 2011.
- 2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/pdf/paguide.pdf. Accessed Aug. 5, 2011.
- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 5, 2011.
- What type of physical activity is best? American Heart Association.http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/CardiacRehab/What-Type-of-Physical-Activity-Is-Best_UCM_307378_Article.jsp. Accessed Aug. 5, 2011.
- Expert: Muscle training dos and don'ts. American College of Sports Medicine. http://www.acsm.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home_Page&template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=7166. Accessed Aug. 5, 2011.
- Beedle BB, et al. No difference in pre- and post-exercise stretching on flexibility. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2007;21:780.
- Everyone benefits from yoga when properly executed and individually adapted. American College of Sports Medicine. http://www.acsm.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Search&template=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&ContentID=4245. Accessed Aug. 5, 2011.
- Selecting and effectively using stability balls. American College of Sports Medicine. http://www.acsm.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Search§ion=Brochures&template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentFileID=711. Accessed Aug. 5, 2011.
- Warm up, cool down and be flexible. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00310. Accessed Aug. 5, 2011.
- Gillespie LD, et al. Interventions for preventing falls in older people living in the community. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2009:CD007146.