Being the “senior” in my department, I feel like I have learned a number of things over my many, many (the second “many” is for you, Barrett) years. I learned manners (I still hold the door open for others), I learned patience (sometimes the bubble over my head stays intact), and I learned the importance of exercise and flexibility.
Flexibility is very important and is something we all need to consider, but especially the guys. And let’s be honest, it’s very hard to get an idea like stretching in a man’s head unless there is an immediate need.
I never stretched until I was in my 40’s and began to have knee issues. At that point it was very targeted stretching to address the problem. We tend to lose flexibility over the years, and I now stretch every morning. Regular stretching will increase your overall mobility and in turn, reduce injuries. I am fortunate, after having a double-knee replacement, to be back on the tennis court playing competitively. This would not be possible without the additional flexibility I’ve gained from regular stretching. I routinely see my tennis teammates “pulling” a muscle because they don’t have the flexibility to support these movements.
Also, a good stretching session will ease tension and allow stress to exit the body. It’s not exactly meditating, but it does give you time to relax, and focusing on the stretch helps you clear your head. I’m typically focusing on not groaning too much during my stretches and that becomes my focal point. ?
Another area we all should focus on is strength training. I’m not talking about the plate-head, screaming for another rep strength training, but focused exercises using weights, bands, or just your body weight to give your muscles resistance. Our muscles begin to atrophy as we get older and the loss of muscle mass results in a loss of strength. This loss of strength affects our daily activities and even basic movements. How many of you have seen your older friends and relatives sometimes struggle just to stand up from a sitting position?
Strength training provides the benefits of maintaining our muscle mass and in turn, improving bone health. Stronger muscles can also help prevent injuries by supporting and protecting our joints. Another great benefit is increasing our metabolism, which also slows as we age. I’m typically accused of eating “junk” all day, and I know I couldn’t do that without my exercise program.
It’s easy to get started with a stretching and exercise program. We all have time that we spend in front of the TV in the evenings. Take the time to stretch during the commercials. This is a great way to time a 30 or 60-second stretch. You can also use the commercial time to perform body weight squats, push ups or any other movement. It’s amazing how this little bit of activity can wake up your muscles and get your heart pumping.