Stretches and exercises are beneficial for flexibility, mobility, strength, and other markers of health, especially as we age and become less limber. But in reality, many stretches and exercises may seem unrealistic or even overwhelming and somewhat intimidating to carry out. Just remember, that is perfectly okay, but that does not mean you need to give up on the idea altogether.
Instead, try stretches and exercises that are customized to seniors and what works for you in particular. These tend to be practical and helpful while working within a range of abilities and limitations. This article will show you numerous stretching exercises for seniors to give you an idea of how to improve flexibility.
How to Regain Flexibility After 60
If your movements are stiff and you don’t have much flexibility, you can change your situation. It is possible to regain flexibility and improve your mobility and range of motion. You can do this with stretching exercises for those over the age of 60. The key is to consistently practice senior stretches so you improve and then maintain your flexibility.
Your stretching routine should include numerous types of flexibility exercises for seniors. Incorporate these three different types in combination:
- Static: This is when you move into a stretch and then hold it for as long as 30 seconds.
- Isometric: While holding a stretch, you then alternate between tensing and releasing the muscle while stretching for up to 20 seconds.
- Dynamic: You perform fluid stretching movements, such as head rolls or hip circles, for about 10 to 12 repetitions.
Create a full-body stretching routine to keep your entire body limber. The key is to choose stretches that meet your body where it is while aiming to slowly increase flexibility. Two people won’t have the same bodies, so each person should adapt their routine to respect their own body. Try different stretches to see how they feel, and adjust them as needed. It’s best to talk to a doctor before beginning a new exercise routine, and you can ask your doctor if they have personalized recommendations for you to consider.
It’s best to walk or otherwise move around for a few minutes to warm up before stretching. While stretching, remember to breathe during each position. Also, avoid bouncing within a stretch, and stop a stretch if you feel pain beyond muscle tension. Be sure to take in enough fluids to avoid dehydration.
The more you stretch and exercise consistently, the more improvement you are likely to see. In time, you may have fewer limitations and have expanded mobility, flexibility, and range of motion. A focus on physical health is one of the ways to age gracefully along with mental, spiritual, and social health.
What Are Good Stretching Exercises for Seniors?
While it’s best to create a personalized routine, there are many mobility exercises for seniors that are practical enough to work for most people over 60. Feel free to adapt them if needed, but here are some ideas:
- Neck: In a seated or standing position, move your head toward your chest and hold. Then, bring your head over your left shoulder and hold. Switch from side to side.
- Shoulder: While sitting or standing, bring your right arm across your chest, hold it above the elbow with your left hand and pull the arm as close to your body as you comfortably can. Hold, and then switch sides.
- Upper Arm: In a seated or standing position, lift your bent right arm. Hold it with your left hand near the elbow and gently move the arm closer to your head. Hold, and switch sides.
- Chest: While seated or standing, bring both arms up and out to your sides with your palms forward. Extend your hands back until you feel a stretch, and hold it. If needed, hold a wall or steady furniture with one hand as you stretch one side, and then switch to the other side.
- Lower Back: If possible, lie down with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Lower both legs to the right while twisting your torso. Hold, and switch sides.
- Hips: Stand and lift your right leg slightly off the ground with your toes up. Move the leg in small circles. Switch sides. If needed, hold a wall or sturdy chair to maintain balance.
- Hamstrings: While seated or standing, put your right foot slightly in front of your bent left leg and keep your right heel on the floor as you lift your toes. Bend forward at the hips while keeping your back straight. Hold, and switch sides. If it helps, you can lift the stretching leg onto a low bench or step. This allows you to keep the left leg straight instead of bending it.
- Calves: Move your right leg forward and bent, and press your left heel down. Hold, then switch sides. You can hold a wall or piece of sturdy furniture if needed.
These are just examples of the many stretches for the elderly that you can try for regaining flexibility throughout your entire body. Make sure your routine includes upper body stretches, back stretches for flexibility and leg stretches.
What Are the Best Exercises for 70 or 80-Year-Olds?
As you get older, you may have even more limitations and find some flexibility exercises impractical. In this case, you can stick to basic stretches your body is able to perform, such as standing or seated arm and leg exercises. Consider these types of exercises in these age groups:
- Chair exercises
- Chair/senior yoga
- Tai chi
- Swimming/pool exercises
- Senior aerobics classes
It’s helpful to find physical therapists or exercise instructors who can guide you in specific senior exercises. These are beginner exercises or ones that can be adapted to each person’s limitations.
Choose an Active Adult Community
An active adult community like Village Green Retirement can help you improve and maintain your flexibility as you age. Our offerings include yoga, water aerobics, and other exercise classes for Federal Way seniors, that are designed specifically for a variety of flexibility levels and age levels. Check the current availability for our independent or assisted living options in Federal Way, WA, or contact us to get in touch.