The Objective : The objective of my project was to find out how flexibility is affected by age. I also wanted to know how frequency of stretching impacts flexibility in different age groups.
I measured five age groups (6-8, 11-14, 18-25, 40-50, and 65+ year-olds) with thirty people in each group. First I had every subject fill out a survey about how often they stretch and exercise.
Next I measured their degree of flexibility on four different muscles groups (legs, arms, back, hips) and gave them a score for each one.
Then I found the average flexibility score for each muscle group and each age group.
I also compared the flexibility of people in the three older age groups who stretched 2 or less times a week with people who stretched 3 or more times a week.
I did not do this for the two younger age groups because there was not enough variety in how often they stretched.
On average, the 6-8, 11-14, and 18-25 year-olds did not have significant differences in overall flexibility. The 40-50 year-olds were definitely less flexible than the younger groups, but not by a ton.
However, the decrease in flexibility of the 65+group was very significant. According to the surveys, all of the age groups stretched a median of 1-2 times a week except for the 11-14 year-olds who stretched a median of 5 or more times a week.
While the 40-50 and 65+ year-olds stretched the same number of times as the 6-8 and 18-25 year-olds, they were much less flexible.
When I looked at the effect of stretching frequency on flexibility in the different age groups, stretching really increased flexibility in the 18-25 year-old group, had a smaller effect in the 40-50 year-old group, and did not seem to improve flexibility in the 65+ group.
Overall, the results of my project did support my hypothesis that flexibility decreases with age. However, I had expected that flexibility would decrease significantly with each older age group. Instead, there was no significant decrease in flexibility until the 40-50 year-old and 65+ age groups. I also found that flexibility was increased more by stretching in the younger adults than in the older subjects. A follow-up study could explore different ways such as massages, exercise, diet or more intensive stretching to help older people become more flexible.
The project was about how flexibility is affected by age.
Science Fair Project done By Erin N. Beebe
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