Stretch Daily to Live Longer

Which is more important as you age — balance or flexibility? The answer is neither. They are equally essential to a healthy life and that’s where daily stretching comes into play.

Muscle mass and strength peak at 35 years old, then begin a steady decline. To combat this, daily stretching prevents injury and can help you live longer.

Stretching prepares your body for the day, like showering or brushing your teeth. All you need is 5 to 10 minutes each morning to maintain flexibility and balance. Start with the following routine. Commit to 30 days to develop the habit.

Head roll: Stand straight, arms down and feet shoulder-width apart. Drop your chin and slowly roll your head from one side to the other, completing a full rotation. Repeat five times.

Shoulder roll: Stand straight with arms down. Lift shoulders, then roll shoulders back and down five times, then roll forward five times.

Triceps stretch: Stand straight. Hold your right arm in front of you, then cross wrist to shoulder, keeping the arm straight. Bend use your left arm to gently press right arm closer to your chest. Hold 10 to 30 seconds and repeat on the left.

Arms and abs stretch: Stand straight, crossing the right foot over left. Reach arms overhead, holding the left wrist with right hand. Lean to the right as far as comfortable, feeling a stretch. Hold 15 to 30 seconds, repeat to the left.

Standing quad stretch: Stand straight. Bring left foot behind and grab your ankle with left hand. Hold 30 seconds, lower foot and repeat on right side.

Standing hamstring/calf stretch: Stand straight placing right foot ahead of the left. Flex right toes up, lean forward and touch right foot with left hand. Pause 30 seconds. Repeat on the left.

Figure four: Lie face up, bend knees and lift legs. Place right ankle over left knee, grasping the left thigh with both hands. Pull left leg toward you for 30 seconds. Repeat on left.

Child’s Pose: Start on all fours. Sit back till your butt touches your heels. Slide hands forward bringing chest toward the floor. Hold up to 1 minute. Wait 10 seconds then repeat three times.