How do baby boomers stay young and agile? According to longtime martial artist and one time Canadian Professional Middleweight Kickboxing Champion Michael Stephen McGuire, we do it by being flexible, and we get flexible by stretching. Michael writes from his home in Vancouver that he learned early in life that a routine of stretching helps him avoid injuries that otherwise could threaten his health.
For optimum physical health, baby boomers need to have strength, cardiovascular fitness, and flexibility.
I have an opinion about why flexibility is the least practiced of these three necessities. Lifting weights for strength fitness results in good muscle size and shape, which are nice attributes for baby boomers to display to the world.
Consistent cardiovascular training will result in baby boomers appearing trimmer, which is also a nice way to look. But who can tell which of us baby boomers has flexibility, which is not an obvious result, as strength and cardiovascular activities are.
Baby boomers are losing their physical flexibility. But we don’t have to. When we baby boomers employ stretching exercise routines, we preserve ourselves physically.
Answers.com has this to say about flexibility: it is improved by stretching. Stretching should only be started when muscles are warm and the body temperature is a bit elevated. To be effective while stretching, force applied to the body must be held just beyond a feeling of pain and needs to be held for at least ten seconds. If held too long, the muscle will become too loose and stretchy. Increasing the range of motion creates good posture and develops proficient performance in everyday activities, increasing the length of life and overall health of the Boomer.
Wikipedia says this: Flexibility is one of the main components of physical fitness and is believed to be important for optimum health. Flexibility exercises have been prescribed for the relief of menstrual disorders, general neuromuscular tension, and low back pain. A certain amount of flexibility is needed for body movement; conversely, lack of flexibility restricts movement.
It takes several weeks of regular training to produce improvements; for maximum benefit, flexibility exercises should be performed on a daily basis. Many adequate routines take only a few minutes each day to complete, but warm-ups and cool-downs must also be included in good flexibility programs.
There were periods in my own life when I didn’t do stretching exercises and it was never long before I could tell the difference (tightness) in the way my body felt. My lower back would start to ache if I wasn’t doing hamstring stretches. So the preventative way to have a healthy lower back was to maintain flexibility.
Flexibility is about body preservation, something we baby boomers are now concerned with. It’s never too late to start, but begin stretching gradually and keep it consistent. I get down on the floor and stretch out twice a week. To stretch is to instinctively relax. You will be amazed how calming it is to do, and how much better your body will feel when it is part of your regular routine.