Harvard Health Letter

Stay flexible to protect your mobility

Stretches ward off falling, and protect walking and climbing ability.

As we get older, our muscles not only lose strength, but also stiffen up. Stiffness can interfere with your ability to move just as surely as can muscle weakness. You need muscles to be flexible in order to extend your arms and legs, walk across a room, and maintain your balance.

In fact, there's a connection between stiffness and weakness. "If you don't maintain flexibility, you'll lose muscle cells. So you actually become weaker if you lose flexibility. You can have problems with balance and become prone to falls, and have trouble with stair climbing or any activity that requires flexibility," says Alissa Evangelista, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

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