RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Staying limber as you age not only helps you reach the stuff on the top shelf, it also prevents injuries and helps you stay active. A study just published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows that you don't need to do stretching exercise for flexibility every day to gain the benefits of a bendable bod.
THE DETAILS: Researchers from Ohio and California recruited 32 healthy adults ranging in age from 18 to 50, and divided them into two groups. Both groups did stretching exercises for flexibility, stretching their hamstrings (the muscle at the back of the thigh) for one minute per leg, two times per day, every day, for four weeks. During the final four weeks of the eight-week study, one group stopped stretching entirely; the other group continued the stretching exercise protocol, but instead of doing it seven days a week, they stretched two or three days a week.
At the start of the study, the researchers measured each participant's hip range of motion, and they measured it again at the end of every week of the study. All the participants significantly improved their range of motion over the first four weeks. Over the second four, hip range of motion declined for the group who stopped stretching (illustrating that gains in flexibility made by stretching are temporary), but it didn't for the group who simply cut back on their stretching—in fact, it improved slightly.
Published on: December 7, 2009