Add stretches to your exercise routine

They can help you stay flexible and active enough to keep your heart in good shape.

It's no secret that as you age, your body becomes less flexible. Your muscles aren't quite as supple and your joints are little stiffer than when you were younger. As a result, getting regular, heart-protecting exercise may be more challenging.

That's why stretching — the deliberate lengthening of muscles to increase flexibility and range of motion — can be especially helpful after middle age. Yet many people are confused about the different stretching techniques and the best time to do them, says sports medicine physician Dr. Adam Tenforde, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.

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