As the temperature drops, it’s never too early to start preparing for winter weather. Balance training and flexibility can help reduce falls, especially among active older adults. Two of our Enhance®Fitness instructors share the importance of flexibility and balance as well as five tips for stretching.
Flexibility and balance training are often neglected in a fitness regimen. Tight muscles limit your performance and hinder daily functions, as well as make you more prone to injury, making stretching a valuable part of your exercise routine.
Proper exercises can stretch and strengthen your muscles, ligaments, and tendons and improve your range of motion. This helps with simple tasks like reaching for an object on a high shelf or performance in a fitness program. It also increases blood flow to the muscles.
Tips for stretching:
- Don't consider stretching a warm up
- Focus on major muscle groups
- Hold your stretch, but do not bounce
- Don't aim for pain
- Keep up with stretching
Balance training involves exercises that strengthen the muscles that keep you upright, including muscles in your legs and core. This type of training helps reduce falls, especially in older adults.
Our EnhanceFitness program is a senior fitness and arthritis management program that helps older adults at all levels of fitness become more active, energized and empowered to sustain independent living. The program has been shown to increase strength, boost activity levels and improve balance.
Program participant Delphine Jones describes her experience saying, “The program has helped improve my flexibility, stretching and balance. I have been feeling so much better physically and emotionally. I benefit from the workouts as much as from the relaxing atmosphere and laughter of my fellow participants.”
The American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for both flexibility and balance training suggest these activities be done at least two times per week. Both are key factors to our daily functions and fitness program, and can be easily worked into your normal routine.
About the Authors:
Pam Vioreanu is a certified AFAA group exercise instructor. She is a former special education teacher who found a passion for inspiring others to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Pam is teaches EnhanceFitness and Indoor Cycling at Hillsborough YMCA.
Pam Ambrose is a certified personal trainer, as well as a certified group exercise instructor. Pam teaches EnhanceFitness classes along with other fitness classes focusing on functional movements at Hillsborough YMCA
Sources: Mayo Clinic and ACSM