As we age, strength and flexibility become an increasingly important part of the equation for overall health. Adequate strength and flexibility is necessary for completing everyday activities, such as doing laundry or light gardening, and maintaining a high quality of life. Part of the aging process includes a natural loss of muscle and tendon strength, mobility, and balance. According to Harvard Medical School, people over the age of thirty with sedentary lifestyles can lose up to 5% of lean muscle mass each decade. This can lead to reduced muscle elasticity, reduced coordination, and an increased likelihood for injuries like strains and tears.

Activities like yoga and Pilates help you pay attention to alignment. You don’t focus on alignment with fast activities. Being out of alignment leads to injury.

Jacy Miller, Certified Personal Trainer, Pilates Instructor and owner of Connections Pilates in Madison, sees many problems associated with reduced strength and flexibility. “I’m seeing lots of osteoporosis and poor joint health,” she says. Common problems she sees include low back strain, weak gluteus muscles, and tight hamstrings. She explained that sitting at a desk for long periods of time and leaning forward to type on a keyboard cause muscles to shorten and pull the body into improper alignment. Miller states, “Activities like yoga and Pilates help you pay attention to alignment. You don’t focus on alignment with fast activities. Being out of alignment leads to injury.”

It’s important as we age to maintain balance and strength for joint health, mobility, and reducing the development or severity of arthritis and other chronic diseases. Miller states, “Strength training is just as important as flexibility as we age.”

 

BRIDGE

 

 

Pelvic lift that works glutes and hip flexors and strengthens the low back and core. This stretch also opens the shoulders and chest.

 

MODIFIED PLANK

 

Isometric exercise that uses your body weight to engage all core muscles. You may also start on your elbows and transition to the top position of a push-up for the Full Plank position.

 

PIGEON

Great for opening the hips and lengthening the hip flexor and psoas. Be mindful of alignment to protect your knees.

UPSIDE DOWN PIGEON

If you experience knee pressure or pain while trying to do the traditional Pigeon Pose, use this modification.

HIGH LUNGE

Also known as crescent pose, this stretch lengthens the spine and strengthens the legs, hips and thighs.

QUADRICEP/HIP FLEXOR STRETCH

A really great stretch for those that work at a desk all day. Stretching and lengthening the quadriceps, hip flexors and the psoas lessens stress on the lower back and knees.

CAMEL POSE

Deep back bend that strengthens the back and stretches the chest, shoulders and quadriceps.

CAMEL POSE MODIFICATION

If you aren’t yet flexible enough or experience pain while trying to do the traditional Camel Pose, use this modification.

SIDE PLANK

A powerful wrist, arm and core strengthener. Avoid this pose if you have wrist, elbow or shoulder injuries.

THE HUNDRED PILATES POSE

A classic Pilates pose that builds core strength and stamina.