As we age, our bodies naturally experience wear and tear. You may already notice occasional discomfort in your knees, back, or reduced ease in getting up compared to earlier years. However, it's essential to know that you can contribute to slowing down this process! The loss of flexibility and mobility is more related to changes in lifestyle than to the aging body itself.

By staying active and prioritizing your well-being, getting older doesn't have to be synonymous with bodily vulnerability. One of the best things you can do for your present and future self is to stay active and lead a healthy lifestyle!

Regular physical exercise can help slow down and improve physical symptoms of aging. In this article, we'll emphasize the importance of paying attention to flexibility, mobility, and balance. Here are some tips to maintain flexibility and ensure your body stays in motion for a long time.

What is flexibility and mobility?

Both flexibility and mobility are crucial for the proper functioning of the body and are essential for healthy aging. Flexibility relates to your muscles, while mobility pertains to the range of motion of your joints.

Mobility indicates how well your joints can move through their full range of motion. In addition to flexibility, strength, and coordination also play a role. The freer your joints can move, the more efficiently you function; think of bending or stretching your elbows, ankles, hips, or shoulders. For example, when picking something up from the ground or reaching for an item in a high cabinet.

Reduced mobility with age can make independent functioning more challenging and increase the risk of falls, injuries, or illness. Loss of mobility can significantly impact your quality of life! Fortunately, it's never too late to start an active lifestyle and pay attention to this aspect.

oefening flexibiliteit en mobiliteit

Exercises for flexibility and mobility

To become more flexible and improve mobility, you can incorporate exercises such as stretching into your routine. There are static methods, such as holding a stretch for a few seconds (e.g., trying to touch your toes), and dynamic methods that are less injury-prone: dynamic means moving slowly through a stretch.

For example, you can perform lunges or squats slowly as part of your warm-up before exercising, focusing on dynamic movements instead of static stretching. This helps prevent injuries and promotes more flexibility.

Research indicates that dynamic stretches are not only preferred but that there's an even better way to warm up: lifting weights! Weightlifting promotes flexibility and muscle building. However, it's essential to start the warm-up with low resistance and then perform the exercises with a full range of motion.

Particularly effective for building flexibility, mobility, and preventing injuries are eccentric exercises, which involve slow and controlled muscle lengthening. The eccentric movement occurs in the "lowering" phase of the exercise and can be executed at a slower pace.

For example, to increase hip flexibility, you can perform eccentric squats by slowly descending in 6 to 10 seconds, then quickly rising (concentric movement), and again slowly descending in 6 to 10 seconds. Remember to breathe freely and start slowly during the exercise.

Balance training for mobility and flexibility

In addition to flexibility and mobility, balance also plays a significant role in healthy aging. Improving your balance helps you move more efficiently and gives you the ability to stand upright and stable (whether standing, kneeling, or squatting).

Balance training enhances your body's ability to respond quickly to missteps, helping prevent falls. Try occasionally standing on your tiptoes, finding balance on one leg, or standing up without using your hands. Adding a little extra active movement every day can make a difference!

Improving your flexibility and mobility

If you're curious about what might work best for you or want to take extra steps to improve, consult your personal trainer or physiotherapist for guidance!