Are things getting stiff?
I have been pretty athletic, but now I'm 63 and I notice that my range of motion is getting restricted. What's going on and how can I reverse this trend?
Age-related changes in connective tissue and muscles can affect range of motion. One study in the Journal of Aging Research found that between ages 55 and 86 the flexibility in shoulder and hip joints decreases by around six degrees a decade. At the same time you may also experience a loss of strength—as muscle tone becomes harder to maintain. Recent research shows that it declines by about 1% a year after age 50. However, that study also pointed out that reducing chronic inflammation, making smart nutrition choices — especially getting enough high-quality protein from plants and fatty fish — and staying physically active can improve muscle function noticeably.
This is your first step toward restoring maximal flexibility—and building muscles. It is done by holding a stretch and relaxing into it while some outside force—a stretchy band, a door frame, gravity or a partner — keeps you in a stretching pose. Remember to hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and breathe through it — exhaling for twice as long as you inhale while to consciously tell your muscles and tendons to relax.
Try this simple Morning Stretch from Dr. Oz.
You also can promote flexibility by doing activities that require you to turn your torso and extend your arms — like yoga or even hitting a tennis ball against a backboard.
This is another important way to improve your range of motion and flexibility. A study in Physiological Reviews found that strength training can boost older folks' strength and muscle mass by 30 percent. And more muscle power helps improve range of motion.
Check out System Oz's "30-Minute Tone & Sculpt for the Whole Body" and "30-Minute Cardio & Strength That's Easy on the Joints." Plus, here's some simple strength training moves for beginners.