The exercise Harvard recommends to be fit for life

The exercise Harvard recommends to be fit for life

Regular stretching keeps muscles long, lean and flexible (Getty Images)

What is the most important exercise we should be doing today to be fit when we are older? One probably thinks of the formation of strength and it’s because strong muscles ensure greater mobility and the ability to stand up and move the body in the coming decades. However, although experts from Harvard also recommend this type of training Explain What there is another more important exercise to keep in shape -although this is not considered an exercise as such-: the stretch.

stretching promotes flexibility and helps joints maintain a healthy range of motion and, in doing so, it also reduces the risk of strain on joints and muscles.

But, How often should you stretch? How long should you hold a stretch? And how many times should we do each stretch?

For the experts, stretching should have its own day, and a specific routine should be included for it beyond just warming up and cooling down the body. You might think that stretching is done only by runners or gymnasts. But we all need to stretch to protect our mobility and independence.Many people don’t understand that stretching should be done regularly. They should be daily,” he said. David Nolan, physiotherapist from Massachusetts General Hospital, affiliated with Harvard.

“A lot of people don't understand that stretching should be done regularly.  They have to be daily,” Harvard experts said (Getty Images)
“A lot of people don’t understand that stretching should be done regularly. They have to be daily,” Harvard experts said (Getty Images)

This is because, according to specialists, stretching keeps muscles flexible, strong and healthy, and we need this flexibility to maintain range of motion in joints. Without it, muscles shorten and tighten. Then, when we need the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to fully extend. This exposes us to joint pain, strains and muscle damage.

For example, sitting in a chair all day causes tension in the hamstrings at the back of the thigh. This can make it harder to straighten your leg or fully straighten your knee, making it difficult to walk. In the same way, When tight muscles are suddenly called upon for strenuous activity that stretches them, such as playing tennis, they can be damaged by the sudden stretch. The injured muscles may not be strong enough to support the joints, which can lead to joint damage.

regular stretching keeps muscles long, lean and flexible, which means exertion won’t put too much force on the muscle itself”, detailed Nolan. healthy muscles They also help a person with balance problems avoid falls.

Healthy muscles also help someone with balance issues avoid falls (Getty Images)
Healthy muscles also help someone with balance issues avoid falls (Getty Images)

With a body full of muscles, the idea of stretch everything the days can seem overwhelming. But Nolan assured that it is not necessary to stretch all the muscles of the body. “Critical areas for mobility are In lower extremities: the calves, hamstrings, hip flexors in the pelvis, and quadriceps in the front of the thigh”. stretch them the shoulders, neck and lower back is also beneficial. Aim for a daily stretching program or at least Three or four times a week we recommend.

“To find a physiotherapist who can assess your muscle strength and adapt a stretching program to meet your needs. If you suffer from chronic illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease Parkinson’s Hello arthritisYou’ll want to discuss a new stretching regimen with your doctor before you start.”

A hamstring stretch will keep the muscles at the back of your thigh flexible (Getty Images)
A hamstring stretch will keep the muscles at the back of your thigh flexible (Getty Images)

Stretching once today won’t magically give you perfect flexibility. Doing it over time and staying engaged in the process is essential. “It may have taken several months to tighten the muscles, so a person won’t be fully flexible after one or two sessions,” the physiotherapist explained. Nolan from Massachusetts General Hospital. “It takes weeks or months to become flexible, and you’re going to have to keep working at it to maintain it.”

A hamstring stretch will keep the muscles in the back of the thigh flexible. How to do it? “Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. Slide your hands down your legs until you feel a burning sensation. Hold the position for 30 seconds, then slowly return to a seated position. The Harvard Stretching Guide.

It was once believed that stretching was only necessary to warm up the muscles and prepare them for activity. However, more and more research has shown that stretching muscles before warming them up can damage them. “When everything is cold, the fibers are not ready and can spoil. If a person exercises first, they will get blood flow to the area, which will make the tissues more flexible and changeable,” he says. Nolan.

All it takes to warm up the muscles before stretching is five to ten minutes of light activity, such as brisk walking. You can also stretch after an aerobic or weight training session. “Hold a stretch for 30 seconds. Do not bounce, which could cause injury. You will feel some tension during a stretch, but you shouldn’t feel any pain. If so, there may be injury or tissue damage. Stop stretching that muscle and talk to your doctor about it,” says the Harvard guide.

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