It’s no secret that aging can tend to take a toll on a person’s body – you may catch yourself feeling stiffer than usual or find that it takes a little longer to get out of your comfiest chair. Flexibility is essential for senior health because of the huge impact it has on your overall strength, mobility and health! According to a study published by the Journal of Gerontology, participants of a 12-month program of stretching exercises for seniors demonstrated positive changes in physical fitness, self-confidence and overall well-being, in addition to a decrease in pain.
Regular stretching is a wonderful, gentle way to help loosen up stiff muscles, ease joint soreness, increase circulation, improve posture and balance, and reduce the risk of injury. We’ve put together some helpful stretching exercises for seniors to help you stay healthy, flexible and fit!
Helpful Stretching Tips
Stretching is an important addition to your fitness routine, no matter your age or level of physical activity. Before you get started, take note of some helpful stretching tips:
- Warm up prior to stretching with 5 to 10 minutes of light movement
- Listen to your body carefully and only stretch until you feel slight tension, not pain
- Hold each stretch for 30 seconds to allow your body to ease into it
- Take slow, deep breaths as you stretch
- Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine, particularly if you’ve experienced any previous surgeries or injuries
7 Impactful Stretching Exercises for Seniors
Neck flexibility is essential for proper posture, in addition to daily activities such as driving. To stretch your neck, lower your chin to your chest as far as you can do so comfortably. With your chin down, slowly turn your head from side to side, holding each position for several seconds.
Shoulders can carry a lot of tension, so flexible shoulders are necessary for reaching shelves, showering or getting dressed. To stretch your shoulders, take a towel in one hand and hold it up over your head, with the other end draped down behind your back. Grab the open end with your opposing hand and gently pull down.
Stiffness in the ankles can lead to poor balance, which makes this stretch important for standing, sitting and walking. Sitting in a chair, slowly rotate your foot from side to side and up and down. Hold each position for several seconds and repeat on both sides.
Hamstrings, if not regularly stretched, can lead to difficulty walking and even lower back pain. To stretch this large muscle, found on the back of your thigh, lay on your back and straighten one leg perpendicular from your body. Hold the back of your thigh with both hands and slowly pull your leg towards you, being careful not to pull on your knee. As you do this, keep your other hip and leg flat on the ground. Repeat on both sides.
Quadriceps are essential for standing, walking and overall balance. To stretch this large muscle, found on the front of your thigh, either stand up with a hand on the wall or lay down on your side and bend your knee, pulling your foot up your back behind you until you feel tension. Repeat on both sides.
Tension can sometimes manifest in hips, especially in older women. To stretch your hips, lay on your back and bend one knee out to the side, in a wing shape. Rest that foot against your straight leg and allow your hips to open up. If you’d like a deeper stretch, you can gently push down on the bent knee. Repeat this on both sides.
Spinal mobility is important to maintain proper posture. To stretch your spine, start by laying on your back with your knees bent and feet side-by-side, flat on the floor. Lower your legs to one side with your knees together and twist your torso gently. Repeat this on both sides.
Cumberland Crossing by OceanView
Cumberland Crossing by OceanView is an active retirement community located in breathtaking Southern Maine, just minutes from the bustling city of Portland. Our community is truly retirement living for the 21st century! We offer two energy-efficient, customizable cottage floor plans, so you can enjoy all the advantages of retirement without the burden of homeownership.
Residents at Cumberland Crossing have access to the state-of-the-art fitness department at our sister community, OceanView at Falmouth. Residents are offered various programs to accommodate all fitness levels, for whatever your health goals or interests may be – from swimming and yoga to training classes!
To learn more about our active retirement community at Cumberland Crossing, please contact us today!