Ballerina stretching with leg up on barre

Stay Flexible, Stay Balanced

Flexibility is essential to staying strong and independent but you don’t have to work at the ballet barre all day to achieve it. Flexibility depends on adequately stretching all muscle groups from head to toe. Ballet and yoga are great ways to stretch but you can do the basics at home every day without going to class.

If you work out at a gym or run in the park, stretching should be done at both the beginning and end of your workout. Stretching before working out helps lengthen muscles that will be placed under pressure by your upcoming exercise routine. Stretching again at the end reminds muscles to retain the strength you’ve just added without cramping up.

For those still trying to overcome a sedentary lifestyle, stretching is a good way to get in the mood for a long walk or bike ride. Start with your toes and work upwards. Flex and arch your feet several times while lying down or sitting in a chair. Spread your toes away from each other. Repeat several times before moving up to stretching your legs and relaxing them.

Raise your arms over your head while lying on your back. Stretch them all the way back and then drop back and relax for a couple of seconds before repeating. Alternate by spreading arms wide and reaching out with the fingers.

Statistics show that women are more like to experience falls as they get older, often because flexibility and balance have been allowed to slip. Everything’s easier when you start young, so start stretching today for a more flexible and balanced tomorrow.

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