number five: stretch
As a massage therapist and student of medicine in general, with a sprinkle of various kinds of psychology and whatnot, I can tell you with some degree of certitude that the pattern of deterioration in the outer parts of the body follows a pretty predictable track: wear, contraction and rigidity.
So, it ought to be fairly obvious that the antidote to this is regular maintainence, which really just means, first of all, regular healthy use, as the body is good at repairing itself if you don’t abuse it too seriously, and for the latter two, counteracting those tendancies to fall into a sinkhole of limited motion and familiar physical patterns.
Which is all a nice way of saying that if you don’t encourage your body to move and stretch and explore it’s full range of motion, you will lose it. And when you lose that, you also begin, interestingly enough, to lose some of the flexibility in the mind. Indeed, these two go hand in hand.
In this day and age, it’s shocking to see how young some people’s bodies are going to hell because they can’t get up from the fucking desk and stretch a little bit every half an hour. Spare yourself some pain, for christ’s sake. I don’t need the money that badly.
Yoga, tai chi, pilates, swimming, dance, most sports. These are all adequate, or simply get a book of stretches from the library and read it. Although obviously, something like yoga or tai chi constitutes a more comprehensive regimen than most.
When you encourage your body to open up and move, especially in ways it never has before, the mind inevitably follows. Don’t underestimate the mind expanding side effects of a good back or groin stretch.