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Senior Health: The Role of Flexibility & Balance in Aging

By Dian Brannen, 10:23 pm on

At Home Care Assistance of the Lehigh Valley, we want seniors to know that exercising is not always about building up muscles or becoming more defined! As the human body begins to age, it is important for everyone to make adjustments to their exercise regimen to accommodate their own level of health. Here is a closer look at two of the most important pillars in senior health, flexibility and balance, and how those over the age of 60 can improve their health each and every day.

Why We Lose our Flexibility and Balance

Collagen is a vital protein found in bones, muscles, ligaments, cartilage and tendons and is the reason humans can stretch and bend without breaking. As a human gets older, collagen throughout the body will begin to bunch together causing us to lose flexibility. Balance, on the other hand, will generally deteriorate when the body is no longer challenged with balance-centric movements and exercises. Fortunately, studies from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that seniors engaging in flexibility and balance-focuses exercises every week have 52 percent fewer falls and breaks.

Staying as Flexible and Well-Balanced as Possible

About half of every workout should be comprised of stretching and moves designed to improve balance. All exercises should involve a comfortable and lengthy warm-up followed by stretching each muscle until the position is uncomfortable but not painful. Ten to fifteen minutes of stretching should take place both before and after exercises such as swimming, a brisk walk, or Tai Chi.

Balance exercises focus on the small muscle fibers that help the body stay upright. Some of the best options include standing on one foot (with or without support from another object) and walking heel-to-toe. Lifting one leg off the ground and then holding it to the front, back, and forward for 20 to 30 seconds will also help with balance.

Need Help with an Exercise Regimen?

Exercise at every age should include some component of endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. For senior citizens, it is important to slowly cut down on strength and endurance movements while increasing flexibility and balance exercises. If you or an aging parent or loved one is interested in starting an exercise regimen, it’s important to first consult with a doctor to see which exercises are the most appropriate. A doctor will also be able to advise if help from a family member or professional Lehigh Valley caregiver is needed for additional support and monitoring.

To learn more about senior exercise and fitness, reach out to Home Care Assistance of the Lehigh Valley. We have a team of highly trained and compassionate caregivers who assist seniors with a variety of daily activities from in-home exercises and meal preparation to medication reminders and transportation. Call 484-350-3874 for more information about flexible hourly and live-in care for Lehigh Valley seniors.