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One Secret Exercise Trick for Staying Active Well After 40

If you want to stay lean and active as you age, you need to work your connective tissue.

If you want to stay lean and active well into old age, you know that you need to exercise to promote stronger muscles, a stronger heart, and better musculoskeletal health. You also know that you need to sleep as much as you can, walk as much as you can, and generally make better lifestyle decisions as it pertains to the sort of stuff you put into your body on a daily basis.

But if you're an athlete—a tennis player, a golfer, a pickup basketball junky—and you'd like to stay active well into your 40s, 50s, and beyond, you need to do at least one more thing. You need to exercise one part of your anatomy that you likely never even think about: Your connective tissue, otherwise known as your ligaments, tendons, and other fibers that permeate your muscles.

As you age, your connective tissue stiffens, your mobility decreases, and in some cases pain ensues. (Arthritis is, after all, a connective tissue disease.) But if you strengthen your connective tissue with targeted exercises—reinforcing your ligaments, protecting your tendons—you'll continue doing the things you love for far longer. With that in mind, here are five great exercises you can do to bolster your connective tissue. And for more life-changing exercise advice, see here for the Secret Exercise Tricks for Keeping Your Weight Down for Good.

Frog Stretch

woman doing a frog stretch

Assume a squatting position with your feet splayed and your elbows pressed against the insides of your knees. Squat as low as you can while keeping your heels on the floor. You'll feel the stretch in your hips, legs, and groin. Hold for 30 seconds, then relax and repeat two more times. And for more great exercise advice, see here for The 15-Second Exercise Trick That Can Change Your Life.

Reverse Wrist Curls

holding dumbbells

Grab a light dumbbell in your right hand and sit on a chair or bench. With your right forearm resting on your right thigh and your right palm facing down, begin raising and lowering your hand using only your wrist. Do 15 reps with each hand to strengthen your wrists and forearms and protect your elbows from tendinitis.

Snow-Shovel Obliques

Working out man training legs and core ab workout doing lunge twist exercise with medicine ball weight. Gym athlete doing lunges and torso rotations for abs training.

Hold a medicine ball with both hands and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat, keeping your back straight and heels on the floor. Allow the ball to dip between your legs, then stand and twist to your left, raising it to shoulder height. Do eight reps to each side to shore up the muscles that rotate your torso.

Achilles Stretch

Strong Man Stretching Calf and Leaning on Wall

Lean forward against a wall, supporting yourself with your arms at chest level. Extend one leg behind you, slightly bending both knees while keeping your feet flat. Lower your hips and increase the bend in your back leg until it stretches the tendon above your back heel. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat with the other leg, to improve ankle strength.

Variable-Surface Push-Ups

Woman doing pushups at home

This exercise will balance your musculature by working your pushing muscles (i.e., your pecs, deltoids, and triceps). Place various objects around you in a circle—a low bench, two dictionaries, two cinder blocks—and assume a push-up position with your hands on two level objects. Do one push-up, then move to the next set of objects and do another. Do three sets of 12. And for more great exercise advice, don't miss the One Surprising Exercise Trick for Losing Belly Fat After 50, Says New Study.

William Mayle
William Mayle is a UK-based writer who specializes in science, health, fitness, and other lifestyle topics. Read more about William