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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Flexibility Is the Key to Your Health

eating right2bestBy Esther Diaz

CSMS Magazine

Stretches that will pay your body back as you age.

As we age, we often lose flexibility. It can make stretching harder—but also more important. It’s funny how simple stretches can change your life. A 2019 analysis of nearly two dozen studies found that older adults who practice yoga report better balance and flexibility, and even improved mental health and sleep.

Support your own health and flexibility by incorporating these three stretches into your daily routine:

Standing Forward Bend: Stand straight up, with your feet slightly apart. Bring your arms straight up, fingers pointing at the sky. Slowly bend forward at the waist, opening your arms to the side and then down, bringing them together on your calves. Stretch to reach your ankles or place palms flat on the ground if it feels comfortable. Hug your legs closer to increase the stretch on your lower back and hamstrings.

Standing Split Pose: Stand straight up with your feet together. Shift your weight onto your right foot. While keeping your back straight, bend forward and raise your left leg behind you. Keep the leg straight or with a slight bend. As you pivot forward, keep your shoulders square and try touching your fingers to the floor. Lean further into your hands slowly, if it feels comfortable. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds before returning to standing. Repeat on opposite side.

Upward Dog: Lie face-down on a mat with legs straight, tops of your feet on the mat. Place hands on the mat, halfway up on your ribcage. Inhale, press hands down, and slowly lift your upper body off the mat as you exhale. Draw shoulders back and press the tops of your feet into the mat. Slowly ease into the stretch. Your knees may lift off the mat. Upward Dog Stretches your chest and abdominal muscles.

Note: Esther Diaz is a health education teacher who lives in suburban Atlanta. She is our contributor.

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