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Flexibility is Key to Your Health

Learn the four simple stretches a lifelong dancer recommends to help keep your body limber as you age 

Growing up, Janice Lennard was a ball of energy.
“It drove my mom crazy, so she suggested I try dance school,” Lennard says.

Now 76, Lennard has made a lifelong commitment to practicing ballet and exercise disciplines such as Pilates and yoga. In fact, her passion has become her vocation: Lennard spends her days teaching Pilates and yoga to students in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Though your body changes as you get older, Lennard notes, such changes aren’t a cue to stop moving. The more you can move, the better you’ll feel, she says. “Simple stretches can change your life. You hold your body straighter, move more easily, and it puts your mind in a happy place.”

In fact, stretching provides many benefits to our bodies as we age, including keeping muscles strong and flexible, and helping to maintain range of motion in joints.

Janice knows that a flexible body is just as important as having flexibility in your Medicare plan. Medicare coverage from Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies offer a number of options that support her health journey, so Janice can have a say in how she lives and cares for herself. Support your own health and flexibility by incorporating these four stretches into your morning routine:

Forward Bend

First, try the forward bend to stretch the back of your legs and your lower back. Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Reach your hands toward your toes, holding on to your feet if you can, or resting them on your thighs, shins or ankles.

Spinal Twist

While still on the floor, try a gentle spinal twist. Sit with legs in front and back straight. Cross your right leg over your left, placing your right foot flat on the mat, outside your left knee. Place your left hand behind you, twisting your torso to the left. With your right hand, hold your right knee in place as you continue twisting your upper body. For a deeper stretch, bring the right arm over your knee and twist. Hold for 30 seconds before repeating on opposite side.

Tree Pose

Tree Pose is a bit more advanced, but good for balance, strength and stretching your hips, knees and shoulders. Stand with your feet together, palms touching at the heart, gazing forward. Slowly raise one foot and rest it on the inside of your calf or thigh, being careful not to place your foot on your knee. For an added challenge, raise arms (the “branches”) above your head and stretch hands toward the ceiling. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat with your other leg.

Warrior II

Stand with legs straight, 3-4 feet apart. Raise arms out to your sides until parallel with the floor. Turn left foot 90 degrees to the left. Look over your left shoulder, lean into your left leg and bend your left knee while keeping your right leg straight behind you. Keep left knee over your ankle. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds. Repeat on other side. Warrior II improves balance and leg strength.

Lennard stresses that everyone’s body is different, and it’s important not to push too hard to avoid injury. “Stretch regularly at your own pace,” she suggests, “and you’ll start to feel a difference.”

Learn more about how to build a healthier today—and be covered tomorrow —with Medicare coverage from Blue Cross Blue Shield at BenefitOfBlue.com.

Brought to you by Blue Cross and Blue Shield Companies (BCBS)

BCBS companies are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA). The Health name is a trademark owned by Meredith Corporation and in no way affliated with BCBSA.

Please consult with your healthcare team before starting a new fitness program.

Paid Endorsement.