Most people tend to focus on one type of exercise or activity and think they’re doing enough, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
Research has shown that it’s important to get all four types of exercise: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. Each one has different benefits. Doing one kind also can improve your ability to do the others, and variety helps reduce boredom and risk of injury.
Stretching can improve your flexibility. Moving more freely will make it easier for you to reach down to tie your shoes or look over your shoulder when you back your car out of the driveway.
Examples of flexibility exercises
- Try the calf stretch exercise. Stand facing a wall slightly farther than arm’s length from the wall, feet shoulder-width apart. Step forward with the right leg and bend the right knee. Keeping both feet flat on the floor, bend the left knee slightly until you feel a stretch in your left calf muscle. Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds, and then return to the starting position. Repeat with the left leg.
Try the ankle stretch exercise. Sit securely toward the edge of a sturdy, armless chair. Stretch your legs out in front of you. With your heels on the floor, bend your ankles to point the toes toward you. Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds. Bend your ankles to point toes away from you and hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
- Stretch when your muscles are warmed up.
- Stretch after endurance or strength exercises.
- Don’t stretch so far that it hurts.
- Always remember to breathe normally while holding a stretch.
- Talk with your doctor if you are unsure about a particular exercise.