How often do you think about your flexibility?  Many never think about it and therefore they probably underestimate the importance of flexibility. Flexibility has many benefits to almost every age group and these benefits become even more important as we age.

As we get older our muscles lose strength and size, both of which can negatively affect our range of motion. Limited range of motion can put an additional strain on your joints and lead to overall stiffness. When your body loses its elasticity, it tightens up. Once our body becomes tight it can lead to more aches, pains and possibly more accidents.

How do you know if you are flexible? A good test of flexibility is if you can stand with your legs straight and touch your toes you have a decent range of motion. If you find that you are not able to touch your toes, you may want to consider doing some activities that will improve your flexibility.

Stretching regularly is very important in maintaining flexibility.  You may do some simple stretches while you are at your desk or watching television (you can find a simple top to bottom stretching guide on my blog by visiting http://agentsarah.blogspot.com/).  It is important to remember not to do too much with cold muscles.  Growing up, we stretched before we worked out; however, we know you should only do deep stretches on warm muscles.  Warm muscles (muscles that have been moving) are not as prone to injury as cold muscles (muscles that have not been moving). You can warm up your muscles by walking a few laps and then slowly incorporating movements that increase your heart rate.  If you have a regular exercise regimen, make sure you incorporate stretching into your activities once your muscles are warm.  Improving flexibility can have a positive impact in a relatively short period of time.

Like with any activity, be careful. If you do too much too quickly you can injure yourself and end up worse off than before you began.  Remember, muscles stretch best when they are warm and stretching cold muscles can lead to pulls and strains, so make sure you take time to warm up before you stretch out.

I often reference the benefits of walking. Walking is an effective activity to help improve your overall well-being as well as flexibility.  If you are interested in a beginner walking program, I will be hosting a Walk and Talk group that will meet at 8:30 a.m. every Friday morning in September. This group will introduce participants to various low-impact physical activities and nutrition tips.  For additional information or to register, please contact the Hunt County Extension office.

As always, if you have questions, concerns, or just want to chat, please feel free to come by the Hunt County Extension office, 2217 Washington Street, Greenville, Texas, 75401, call (903) 455-9650, or email Sarah.Latham@ag.tamu.edu.

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