The Daily Tonic: A Flexible Future, Private Jet Pollution, and More

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(7.28.2022) As we age, we will all naturally see a decline in the range of motion over which our limbs and joints can move. We’ve all felt this to some degree. Bending over and reaching for your toes now probably feels a little different than it did ten or twenty years ago. 

From the age 20 to 49, our flexibility declines by about 10% every decade. So what exactly is going on here? Are our muscles, tendons, and ligaments getting shorter? Do our joints just need more lubrication as we age? Is there like a WD-40 type spray we can get in there to loosen us up like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz? 

Well, it is important to understand that the natural decline in flexibility as we age is actually due to loss of water in our tissues and joints as well as a loss in elasticity in our actual muscles and tendons. This is one of the many reasons why adequate hydration is such an important piece of optimizing your nutrition. 

With that said, it is also important to note that a lot of the decline in flexibility we see today is actually due to the sedentary lifestyle that has become commonplace for so many people. If you are spending the majority of your day sitting at an office or staring at your phone, this is naturally going to impact how mobile your hips, spine, and neck become as you age. 

Movement is one of the best lubricants to keep proper range of motion in check. Sure, stretching is also important, but at the end of the day moving often and moving properly is one of the best things you can do to make sure you stay as limber as possible for as long as possible. 

Why is staying flexible so important? Well, aside from the obvious fact that it will allow you to participate in more physical activities for longer periods of time (who doesn’t want to play pickle ball deep into their 80’s?!) flexibility has also been tied to increased longevity by helping with balance, preventing injuries, and preventing falls and accidents as we age.  

The key takeaway? You don’t necessarily have to be doing splits once retirement comes around but one thing is for sure, flexibility matters and it is something you need to work on now so you can create a hedge for decline as you age. 

Yoga and stretching are both great, but keep in mind that pulling on muscles and joints is not the only (or arguably the best) thing you can do to stay flexible as the years go by. Good posture is extremely important, as is prioritizing consistent and proper form at the end range of motions. Proper form, especially during strength and mobility exercises, is be the best thing you can do to stay stretchy stretchy and on the pickle ball courts for decades to come.

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