Just a few minutes of stretching each day can help you stay limber for a lifetime. And that’s not all: Improving flexibility means better balance, a straight back, less pain and fatigue, improved athletic performance, and even a clearer mind. Warm up, then practice one of these moves from 8 Weeks to a Younger Body: The At-Home Workout for a Firmer, Fitter You by health-and-fitness trainer Joan Pagano.
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In your 30s
Seated Front-Hip Stretch Beginning in a sitting position on a fitness ball, straighten your right leg behind you; stabilize by pressing into the floor with the toes on your right foot. Keep your left knee bent and aligned over ankle. Switch sides and repeat. Do 1 stretch on each side.
Tip: To increase the stretch, tuck your hips to roll the ball forward 1–2 inches; hold for 15–30 seconds.
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In your 40s
Chest Stretch Stand up tall, lengthening through the spine. Lift your chest, and relax your shoulders. Look straight ahead, keeping your chin level. Clasp your hands behind your back, and slowly raise arms as far as possible. Hold for 10–15 seconds, breathing naturally.
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In your 50s
Knee to Shoulder Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor, and arms by your sides. (Your spine should be in neutral alignment with a slight natural curve in the lower back.) Inhale as you clasp your hands around your right thigh; as you exhale, pull right knee toward your shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds. Return to starting position; switch sides and repeat to complete 1 rep. Do 1–3 reps.