Exercises and Stretching

Muscles take longer to respond to brain signals in your 50’s than in your 20’s. The water content of tendons, the cord-like structures that attach muscles to bones, decrease as you age. Tissues become stiffer and less able to tolerate stress.

Recent studies show that total muscles mass decreases by nearly 50 percent for those aged between 20 and 90. On average, people lose about 30 percent of their strength between the ages of 50 and 70.

Often there are empty times during the day when exercises could be practiced; stopping at a traffic light, watching TV, watching the pot boil etc.

For any action we perform (i.e. lifting), muscles need to work but not overwork. Our muscles overwork when, while talking on the phone, we scrunch up our shoulder because we are concentrating only on the conversation.

There are two approaches to the exercises:

1. Letting go. Releasing over-worked muscles (review relaxation on page 31 and muscles on page 34).

2. What we usually consider conventional stretching. To lengthen tight muscles.

Correct Method of Stretching

To make stretching safe, begin with a short warm-up (10-15 minutes), to increase blood flow, tissue temperature and elasticity. A stationary bike, treadmill, rowing, walking, marching on the spot, are ways to warm up.

Make sure you are clear which muscles you are stretching. Find the correct position for it. Progress will be made easier if you concentrate on the process.

  • Now move slowly and gently until you feel a slight tension in the muscle.
  • This must not hurt.
  • Hold this position until the tension passes, then stretch a little more and hold again.
  • Don’t forget to breath.
  • Do not bounce.
  • Be patient and consistent with this routine. I suggest using a mirror (review pages 41 and 53).

Try this Postural Exercise:

Allow the back of your neck to lengthen upwards without tension while the rest of your spine drops away in a downward direction. You could imagine the top of your head reaching towards the clouds, while rooting your lower body to the ground. Check that your buttocks are relaxed. If you are not sure, squeeze them together, feel the tension, then let them go. Be aware of giving space to the front of your ribs and belly, so you can breathe easily from this area.