Flexibility and core strength are words that get tossed around a lot in conversations about health and wellness, and for good reason! Both are critical to managing daily activities throughout one's lifetime. But many adults lose strength and flexibility as they age. However, adults should continue to exercise to reap the practical benefits of having good core strength and flexibility.
Why Seniors Need Strong Cores & Flexible Bodies
Staying strong and flexible as we age means many of life's "little" tasks will not become big hurdles to remaining independent. Consider some of the things an independent adult must do daily:
- Bend over to tie shoes
- Reach into a closet for a coat, and put it on without assistance
- Lift a box from the porch to bring it inside
- Turn head to look behind you
- Transfer groceries and other items from shopping cart to car, and once home, put the items away
- Maintain stability and balance on uneven pavement
- Navigate stairs, escalators, and step into and out of vehicles of different heights
All of these movements require a combination of core strength and flexibility. The bad news is that studies have shown that movement, specifically both shoulder adduction and hip flexion, decreases with age. The good news is that maintaining regular activity reduces the loss of flexibility and working on specific exercise can further reduce the loss of strength and range of motion.
How Core Strength and Flexibility Exercises Benefit Older Adults
A review of studies on flexibility in older adults noted that although flexibility tends to decrease with age, older adults can increase their range of motion and flexibility with regular training.
By the time older adults notice a decreased ability to do "simple" daily tasks, they may need to work with a physical therapist to regain some of the strength and mobility they need to avoid falls, remain independent, and enjoy life! Fortunately, a little bit of preventative exercise, such as stretching at least twice a week, can help maintain the flexibility you have now.
For more exercise tips to maintain or improve your daily activities, check out our infographic on senior exercise ideas to improve balance.