How to increase felxibility and strength

Any physical exertion is exercise. At any age everyone benefits from exercise, yet it need not be strenuous. Exercise should be done slowly, at a pace that is comfortable for you. The benefits accrue from repeating the routine at least three to five times a week for a period of 20 to 30 minutes each time.

The stretch-and-flex exercises that follow will improve flexibility. To get their benefit, stretch until you feel mild tension; then hold at that point. Push-ups, sit-ups, and leg raises are for increasing muscle strength.

Head rolls. Turn head to left, back to center, then to right, center. With chin on chest, slowly turn head left, back to center, then right, center.

Shoulder shrugs

Stand with arms at sides, roll shoulders toward ears, drop shoulders. Repeat three times.
Arm circles. Stand with knees relaxed, pelvis tucked under, arms extended. Circle arms in one direction, then the other, first small circles, then larger ones.

Ankle rotation

With knees relaxed, lift one foot slightly, flex and point four times; then circle foot twice in each direction.

Side stretches

Stand with legs apart, knees relaxed. Raise left arm toward ceiling, keeping it close to ear. Bend to right, sliding right arm down leg. On repeat, raise both arms toward ceiling. Bend to right and hold; don’t bounce. Repeat to left.


Standing with arms outstretched, turn upper torso to right; left heel should lift off floor. Repeat to left, with right heel rising. Repeat sequence with elbows bent.

Reach and climb

Stand with legs apart. Reach one arm up as far as possible; then lower it slightly and reach with the other arm. Alternate the reach-and-climb motion from one side to the other.

Ann crossovers

Stand with knees relaxed, hug and cross arms in front of body, then stretch them out to side.

Sitting stretches

Sit tall with legs straddled, toes pointed up, knees relaxed. Reach forward over the leg to a space above the toes. Hold at least 15 seconds; repeat over other leg. Put soles of feet together; hold ankles. Bending from hips and keeping head up, gently pull yourself forward until you feel stretch in the groin area.

Alternate leg raises

Lie on one side, both legs extended (bottom leg may be bent slightly). Move top leg up and down, toes pointed at ceiling. Repeat on other side. Change the muscles worked by turning toes parallel to floor or pointing down.

Cat back

Kneel on hands and knees. Pull stomach in, put chin on chest, and arch back upward like a cat. Reverse arch by bringing head up and dipping spine to form a U.