Relationship Between Body Size & Flexibility

Woman stretching
Sustaining flexibility is an integral part of health and fitness. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Although some people seem to be naturally more flexible than others, most people can develop flexibility by performing regular exercises designed to help bodies become more limber. No matter what your body size, you can increase your own flexibility with a daily stretching and exercise routine. Nevertheless, certain factors related to size, such as joint pain due to obesity, can inhibit your flexibility initially and prevent you from performing certain activities.

Flexibility and Movement

Body flexibility involves joints, muscles and various connective tissues. People who lead sedentary lifestyles usually aren’t very flexible because they simply don’t move their bodies very often. Joints get stiff and muscles become tight without regular movement, and inactivity can lead to chemical changes in surrounding connective tissue that restrict flexibility, according to Brad Appleton for CM Crossroads. Also, a sedentary lifestyle often leads to weight gain and obesity, which further taxes and inhibits joints, muscles and connective tissues. In this way, body size affects flexibility, but even obese individuals can increase their flexibility with regular stretching exercises.

Weight

Carrying extra body weight can slow a person down during activities and prevent them from building optimum flexibility. However, performing simple stretching exercises, such as those practiced in basic Pilates routines can help people develop flexibility, despite body size. Stretch and tone with Pilates exercises, as well as other whole-body flexibility exercise routines, such as tai chi and yoga, recommends the Yoga Point website. Performing such exercises regularly can also contribute to weight loss when combined with a proper diet.

Height

Some stereotypes may suggest taller people are less agile. However, many tall athletes such as basketball players rely on flexibility to perform successfully during games. Taller people have more body mass to move around during any activity. However, flexibility training can especially help those with a naturally larger body size gain better coordination, control and balance, according to Yoga Journal. Practicing Pilates, yoga or tai chi can particularly help build flexibility and strength in core muscles, which ultimately help control and move the entire body.

Age

Body size and flexibility naturally change with age. It’s important for anyone at any age to maintain flexibility to keep fit and help prevent injury. However, as people age, they tend to gain weight and automatically lose flexibility, and many also become shorter. If you begin flexibility training as an older person, it might take you longer to develop it, but eventually, you will see and feel the benefits if you stick with it daily.

Warning

Check with your health-care provider before beginning flexibility training, including Pilates, yoga, tai chi or similar activities, as well as stretching for flexibility on your own. Avoid muscle and joint pulls and tears by gently stretching during exercise, and if you’re not sure about how to perform flexibility exercises, seek advice from a fitness professional.

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