Stretching for 50+
Dr. Knopf addresses common chronic problems, such as lower back pain and arthritis, and makes recommendations for stretches that will ease and not exacerbate those conditions.
n the 70s fitness was all about aerobics; in the 90s many people started lifting weights. Yet many of the now 96 million Americans over the age of 50 neglect an important aspect of fitness: stretching. With an additional 4.4 million people turning 50 each year, it s important to remind both couch potatoes and active seniors of the need to maintain flexibility and to take sensible measures to avoid injury.
In his new book, Stretching for 50+, Dr. Karl Knopf has created a customized program to accomplish those things and to sustain an active lifestyle during the older years. Dr. Knopf, who is president of the Fitness Educators of Older Adults Association, has served as advisor to the PBS exercise series Sit and Be Fit. The philosophy here is that people over 50 can do most of the same things as 20- and 30- year olds. The book shows how to maintain and improve flexibility by incorporating additional stretching into everyday life.
The program covers all the muscle groups of the body; there are specially designed programs for every level of fitness. Among the features: super-easy variations designed for the 60-and-older group and for people with limited mobility. By incorporating such everyday props as a chair, sofa or elastic cord, the stretches are not only a safe way to begin, they also are a step towards the book s other stretches.
Mindful of the risks that sudden or over-ambitious movement might pose to people who have not been active (and even in some instances to those who follow an exercise program), Dr. Knopf has been liberal in his cautionary notes, which have been placed throughout the book. For example, he warns about the dangers of warming up the neck by rapidly rolling the head in circles; the warning includes any rapid or sudden neck movement because the neck is fragile. Sensibly, he advises readers to listen to their bodies, to heed any pain, and to listen (literally) for any snaps, crackles or pops.
Dr. Knopf addresses common chronic problems, such as lower back pain and arthritis, and makes recommendations for stretches that will ease and not exacerbate those conditions. He also recommends simple programs for specific recreational activities, such as golf, skiing, kayaking and so on, as well as for common tasks, such as house-cleaning and shoveling snow. The section on each activity has an easy-to-follow illustrated list of recommended stretches.
I particularly liked the stretches that can be done in bed, before beginning the day. These include the knee roll, single knee-to-chest, sit and reach and rock n/ roll. The stretches not only ease the stiffness with which many over-50s wake up with, they also give a feeling of having accomplished something positive before the day s work has even begun.
With all Dr. Knopf s cautions in mind, most over-50 readers will be able to undertake all or part of this sensible program.
Stretching for 50+ ($13.95) by Dr. Karl Knopf:
128pp, 7 1/2 x 10 1/4
200 B&W photos
Ulysses Press ©2004