Stretching, Yoga, Pilates
Maybe a visual of getting stuck cross-legged on the floor or trying unsuccessfully to reach your toes comes to mind when you think about stretching no matter your age. But options for improving flexibility and preventing the stiffness that comes with age may be just a "Legs Up the Wall" or "Great Rejuvenator" pose away [source: Francina]. Yoga may be gaining popularity with seniors because it extends the spine and takes you upside down, at least enough to improve blood flow to the brain and heart and circulation overall [source: Francina]. Stretching exercises combined with meditation in a form called qigong have been foundations of Chinese health, with seniors meeting together for daily exercise.
Some stereotypes about yoga include believing that you have to be twisted into a pretzel or risk breaking a limb while balancing in bare feet. Yoga for older or less-flexible students can include props for balancing, lying comfortably and hanging on, and chair yoga can be done while seated [source: Associated Press]. Not all classes involve getting up and down from the floor, although if you can get up and down, doing it often will help you be able to do it for longer. Another misconception is that you'll need to subscribe to some kind of religious ritual, but many practitioners leave out the spiritual aspects. No need to "Om" or even "Amen," but if you're seeking spirituality with your stretch, Eastern branches and even Christian varieties of yoga are offered. Some even get serious about Laughter Yoga, an international practice involving real and fake laughing for health and happiness [source: Laughter Yoga International].