Eight ways to stay supple in middle age

What to eat and the best exercises to improve flexibility

Updated: 
Older woman stretching on yoga mat


It's natural to lose some flexibility in middle age, but there are things you can do. Read on for what to eat and the best exercises to keep you supple.

See also: This simple sitting test could predict how long you will live

See also: An hour's walk can cancel out eight hours behind a desk, scientists say

1. Watch your weight
Carrying too much weight puts a strain on your joints and other tissues. If you need to lose weight, consider following a programme like the fast diet. Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce inflammation, which can cause stiffness, as well as being a good way to lose weight.

2. Exercise
As well as burning calories, exercise has an anti-inflammatory effect and can help to keep your muscles and joints healthy. Experts suggest a brisk 30-minute walk at least three times a week and doing strength training exercises, such as weight lifting, at least twice of week. Of course, it's also important to do lots of stretching to stay supple, such as yoga and Pilates.

3. T'ai-chi
If your joints aren't up to more challenging exercise, try doing T'ai-chi. Combing deep breathing with gentle continuous movement, studies show that it can help to improve suppleness and combat the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

4. Sun salutation
If you feel stiff and achy on waking, try doing the sun salutation. This series of yoga movements will help to elongate your spine, stretch out your back muscles and improve your flexibility. It can be done in 10 minutes or less, and can make a surprising difference to your day. Join a class to learn, or follow a video on Youtube. You can buy yoga DVDs from Amazon for less than £10.

5. Oily fish
Oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, contain omega-3 fatty acids that help to fight inflammation, combat joint pain and reduce stiffness. Aim to eat oily fish (a fillet of salmon) twice a week or take a fish-oil supplement.

6. Green tea
Green tea contains antioxidants that are known to reduce inflammation and prevent joint damage. Research suggests that drinking green tea can help to improve mobility for those with knee arthritis, while a separate study has found that it can aid weight loss and increase endurance in athletes.

7. Curry
Turmeric, the spice that gives curry its yellow colour, is known to reduce inflammation in the body – helping to keep you supple. The main active ingredient is curcumin, which can be taken in supplement form if you don't like curry.

8. Take a supplement
Some studies suggest that taking glucosamine and chondroitin can help to stimulate joint repair, reduce cartilage damage and lower inflammation in some people. Taking a collagen supplement, which gives strength to bones, ligaments, tendons and cartilage, may also help.