It is a common mantra among humans as we age: “I’m shrinking!” And while we can lose an inch or so as we age, much of our height change can be addressed through proper posture and stretching to keep our body limber.
In addition to maintaining a strong body, it is also important to say active, eat a balanced diet, and maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to age gracefully. Discuss any activity changes with your healthcare provider.
Here are five exercises you can try to stand strong and tall as you age:
Downward Dog Stretch
This exercise helps stretch and elongate your spine. Sit on your knees with your legs tucked under you and bring your arms in front of you on the bed or floor. Elongate your spine and sit back on your feet. Remember that all stretches should only be mild-moderate in intensity. Never intense or painful. Hold for 30-60 seconds. You can perform 2-3 times a day.
Weight-bearing exercises are excellent ways to build and maintain bone strength. You can also try a new sport for weight-bearing fun such as tennis or golf. If you struggle with joint pain from arthritis or other ailments, you will want to modify how long you are doing these activities based on your pain tolerance.
Full Body Stretch to Avoid Shrinking
Lay on your back on a flat surface with your legs out and your arms above your head. You will want to elongate your body as much as you can. Take deep relaxed breaths in and out for relaxation. Hold your positioning for 2-3 minutes.
Stand in any standard doorway in your home. Place one hand on each side of door frame, hands will be roughly shoulder level or lower with your elbows bent. Place one foot in front of the other and gently lean into the front foot until you feel a gentle stretch in your chest. Hold for 30-60 seconds; you can perform 1-3 times a day. This stretch will help combat the forward shoulder position (bad posture) that we tend to fall into.
Keep elbows bent at 90 degrees at your side. Squeeze your shoulder blades together like you are trying to pinch a pencil in between your shoulder blades. Hold for 3 seconds and release. Perform 10-15 reps, 2-3 times a day. This also helps prevent slouched posture.
Not all exercises are appropriate for everyone. There may be reasons why some exercises on this list are not recommended for you including if you recently had surgery or suffered an acute injury. Exercises should never be painful. All these exercises will help you avoid bad posture that leads to us feeling shorter as we age.
Aquacare’s team of highly trained physical therapists can help you feel more confident in your abilities. Contact any of our offices for a free consultation to review your concerns.