Regular Stretching Shown to Improve Muscles in Elderly
Daily muscle stretching could bring health benefits to older people with reduced mobility, according to new research published in The Journal of Physiology.
Despite the well-known beneficial effects of exercise, the proportion of older people participating in regular exercise programs is low, often due to the strenuous nature of exercise training. In particular, older people with reduced mobility and weak muscles are often less likely to take part in exercise.
Muscle stretching is widely performed as a warm-up or cool-down and is low intensity compared to aerobic exercise. This means that even very old individuals can perform muscle stretching with minimal risk of injury.
Researchers from Florida State University, Kansas State University, and the University of Electro-communications in Tokyo found that regular muscular stretching, when performed five times per week, for 4 weeks, increases blood flow to muscles of the lower leg. They also found regular muscular stretching improves the function of arteries in the muscles of the lower legs, and increases the number of capillaries within stretched muscles.
This suggests that for individuals with limited mobility, regular muscular stretching could improve blood flow to muscles.
This has particularly important implications for older people with lower leg problems for whom walking is difficult due to pain or lack of mobility. Additionally, patients with peripheral artery disease and patients with foot or leg problems related to conditions such as diabetes might be able to use muscular stretching to improve blood flow to their lower limbs and increase or regain walking function.
View for more info: Hotta et al. (2018). Daily muscle stretching enhances blood flow, endothelial function, capillarity, vessel density and connectivity in aged skeletal muscle. The Journal of Physiology.
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