How to keep your body supple and flexible over 40
-Apr 20, Caroline Blight , Fitness -
As we get older a bad back, achey joints and not being able to bend and stretch absolutely don’t have to become your new normal. Expert yoga instructor Katy Simpson explains how to ensure that you hold on to your flexibility and agility into your forties and beyond.
Most of us don’t have a huge amount of time to exercise, we fit in what we can, when we can.
And, it can be baffling understanding what our bodies need the most. We are told we need to do plenty of cardiovascular exercise for our hearts, lift weights to keep our muscle mass up and make sure we stay flexible too.
It can be hard to know where to start!
Our age can help us prioritise and as when we hit 40 remaining flexible can benefit our health. But it also makes sure we are less prone to accidents and injuries too.
“The ageing process has a significant impact on the muscle strength, flexibility, agility, and endurance,” explains Katy Simpson, yoga instructor and co-founder of Ebb and Flow.
“It’s fair to say the overall loss of flexibility in women as they age is felt by most women over 40.”
Why is flexibility important as we get older?
As we get older our muscles shrink and decrease and the water content in our tendons is reduced.
This makes our body stiffer and also less able to cope with stress.
With flexibility it really is a case of use it – or lose it.
We need flexibility to cope well with our every-day life. Examples include the ability to bend over and tie our shoelaces, or regain our balance when we slip.
Therefore, keeping flexible needs to be as important as strength and endurance training.
“As the physical body becomes older, it is important to keep supple and agile, daily stretches and movement,” says Katy. “Maintaining flexibility can make a big difference to your overall flexibility and longevity.”
Why focusing on flexibility is important before you start to feel stiff
Katy explains: “This makes simple things such as, gardening, lifting, cycling or running round with the kids or grandchildren less daunting.”
Unlike strength and cardiovascular performance, flexibility doesn’t have a cap when it comes to age. But there’s no point waiting until you feel stiff or are injured to start improving it.
The sooner you start, the better. “Where and how your flexibility will decrease is dependent on your specific job, family history, medical history and daily movements,” explains Katy.
“Practices such as yoga add a low impact, gentle way of moving into your day that can maintain flexibility of your body.”
Which types of exercise will help us become more flexible?
Flowing movement and concentrating on stretching out less used muscle groups mean they move better. But they also educate your brain to use them more often in everyday tasks.
Many aches and pains we suffer are linked back to the wrong muscles being used, sometimes because our posture is bad. But in case also be because we simply have not been using the correct muscles and it’s as if our brains ‘forget’ them.
You will notice and improvement sooner than you think!
“Yoga works in a low impact way, working with both the physical body and nervous system to allow your muscles to lengthen and unravel.
“Heated classes are also a great way to aid in flexibility as the body becomes relaxed and muscles become more supple,” advises Katy.
Which exercises make us less flexible?
If you do a lot of cardio and weight training then making time for stretching is incredibly important as both exercises can make you fitter but stiffer. “A body that is repeatedly put under pressure through high impact exercise will tighten up through muscle contractions,” Katy explains.
“The physical practice of yoga is great to combine alongside other forms of strength or endurance training. If you are looking for improvement quick, then practicing yoga three times a week will help to increase your flexibility and performance.”
So, make time to lengthen as well as strengthen!
If you enjoyed this here’s why Julia Roberts is celebrating turning 50. And, Julianne Moore explains to us the reasons that she’s not worried about getting older at all. If you’re in your thirties here’s how your body changes after 35 and, what to do about it.