Staying Flexible As We Age

By John C. Kagan, M.D. –

Staying Flexible As We AgeCan exercise keep you young? Of course exercise can’t literally turn back the clock, but it can keep your muscles, bones and joints healthy. Staying active through regular exercise that promotes stretching and flexibility can offer many anti-aging benefits. Aerobic activity that raises the heart rate is important for fitness and conditioning, but stretching is just as vital for good health.

Gentle exercise stretches the muscles, reduces tightness and tension, and increases blood flow. It promotes flexibility in the joints, which improves our range of motion and can lessen many common aches and pains. The repetitive motion of exercise also promotes the body’s natural process of lubricating joint surfaces, says the AAOS.

Here are additional reasons why stretching and staying flexible is important no matter what your age.
• Regular exercise and stretching helps maintain balance, which reduces the risk of falling.
• Εxercise stimulates muscle growth, counteracting the tendency to lose muscle mass with age. Muscles that are toned and strong reduce stress on the joints.
• Stretching improves the flexibility and elasticity of tendons and ligaments, lowering the risk of sports-related injuries.
• Exercise increases bone mass, density and overall strength, which may prevent osteoporosis and decrease the potential for fractures later in life.

When stretching, experts suggest following proper technique for the best results. Perform a low intensity exercise like brisk walking for five to ten minutes to warm up muscles before stretching, making sure that when you are stretching, you don’t bounce or push it until you feel pain, which can cause small muscle tears. Stretch the calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders – the major muscle groups. And remember to stretch both sides of the body equally.

Not all exercise is equal. The AAOS cautions again being a “weekend warrior.” Fast-paced, competitive activity on the weekends only can do more harm than good and can put you on the path for developing injuries ranging from stress fractures to torn or inflamed tendons and ligaments. It’s much better to take a short time every day for gentle stretching and moderate exercise.

For more information on ways to maintain healthy joints and bones or to discuss treatment options, call 239-936-6778 or visit For more useful tips on your bone and joint health and updates on our practice, visit my blog at and follow me online on Facebook and on Twitter.

Orthopedic surgeons are doctors who specialize in treating musculoskeletal injuries that affect the bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons, joints and cartilage. Dr. John Kagan has more than 20 years of experience treating patients of all ages with orthopedic-related conditions. Learn more about his expertise at

Do you have questions about joint pain?
Attend Dr. Kagan’s next “Ask and Answer Seminar” on Saturday, December 15 from 10am to noon at Gulf Coast Medical Center’s
Community Room, 13861 Doctors Way in Fort Myers.
To register online and for more information, visit or call 239-936-6778 ext. 2227.

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