Is it too late to get flexible after 50? And what if you were never flexible? It seems that just about the time that we get more time and availability for things like exercise and flexibility training, arthritis starts to set in. Life is nothing if not ironic, right? But we went deep to find out if it's possible and if so, how to go about it now that we have some more time to do better by our bodies.
There are yoga and Pilates classes for every level of experience and ability and we have some ideas on how to get started, here. The great news is that flexibility practice also offers a number of health benefits for women in their 50s and beyond so being bendier is just the tip of what's possible.
Practicing yoga or Pilates may help us gain flexibility, strengthen bones, protect joints and lower high blood pressure. Even 15 minutes a day will make a difference. Let's look at how and why to get started.
Working toward increased flexibility has many benefits, including improved posture and balance, which can both reduce pain and prevent injuries. In addition to becoming more flexible, there are a number of other benefits yoga or Pilates has to offer women as they age. These include:
Providing stiff or achy joint relief. These workouts can help lubricate joints, which can help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis and osteoarthritis. Protecting joints helps to better manage daily tasks later in life and to reduce pain by staving off arthritic degradation.
Increasing bone-strength. Yoga and Pilates also help strengthen bones, which helps slow bone-thinning in those suffering from osteoporosis — a condition that’s more prevalent among women in their 50s.
Lowering high blood pressure. They can also be very relaxing, which helps reduce hypertension levels, which are more likely to affect aging women.
Yoga is one of the most readily available ways to get flexible after 50, even if you’ve never tried it before. And many cities now have Pilates classes as well. As a gentle practice that combines physical exercise with meditation, these workouts are generally considered accessible to people of all levels of fitness.Depending on fitness goals, some may even want to practice at home with an online class. But it may also help, at least at first, to visit an in-person class at a yoga or Pilates studio or gym to get guidance and feel supported in the crucial stages of early practice. It may help to find a class specifically geared toward seniors by calling first or looking for classes that use words like gentle — "gentle yoga" is becoming more and more common. If you have a physical disability, you can even check out chair yoga for some of the same benefits.
If you’ve been practicing flexibility for years, you’ve already been reaping the many benefits to make aging easier, but it’s important to make sure you have a well-trained, experienced teacher who is responsive to individual health concerns and doesn't see the class as a whole as much as they see every person in the room as an individual to help reduce the risk of injuries. Ask friends for recommendations, or contact local wellness or senior centers.
Even as little as 15 minutes of yoga or Pilates a day will make a difference over time. Now you know it’s not too late to get flexible after 50, but the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll reap the benefits, so get started right away.