Fitness

12 Best Mobility Exercises for Seniors

senior exercising

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Maintaining mobility as you age is essential for keeping up with your daily activities, including dressing, driving, and cooking, as well as fun stuff like engaging with kids and taking a pet for a walk.

Check out the following strengthening and stretching exercises for older people for easy ways to improve balance, flexibility, and overall mobility. Many are beginner friendly, and none require any special equipment.

best mobility exercises for seniors

Before You Begin with Senior Mobility Exercises

Before trying out our best mobility exercises for seniors or any other fitness routine, it’s very important that you warm up. Warming up will prepare your cardiovascular system for exertion and bring extra oxygen to muscles so that they move more freely and don’t hurt as much after exercise.

Good ways to warm up include taking a brief walk and mimicking the moves you’ll be performing while exercising.

The Best Mobility Exercises for Older Adults

1. Bird Dog Exercise

An effective trunk mobility exercise that can help you improve balance and reduce lower back pains

How to do the bird dog exercise

  • Get on your hands and knees on an exercise mat or other soft surface.
  • Extend one leg backwards, lifting it parallel to the floor.
  • Extend the opposite arm up, lifting it parallel to the floor.
  • Concentrate on maintaining a straight line from your foot to your hand, holding the move for 5 seconds before returning to the starting position.
  • Switch sides, lift the other leg and arm, and repeat the exercise.

2. Cactus Arms

The cactus arms exercise is a beginner-friendly pose that helps stretch and strengthen the shoulders

How to do the cactus arms exercise

  • Stand straight with your arms at your sides and feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Raise your arms and bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle.
  • Extend your arms outwards so that your biceps are on either side of your head with your hands facing forward.
  • Hold the pose for a few seconds, and then raise your hands higher until your arms are fully extended upward.
  • Hold the pose again for a few seconds, and then return to the starting position.

3. Clam Pose

Similar to cactus arms, the upper body clam pose is one of the best shoulder stretches for seniors

How to do the clam pose

  • Sit on a chair, bench, or stool with feet flat on the floor.
  • Raise your arms and bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle.
  • Extend your arms outwards so that your biceps are on either side of your head with your hands facing forward.
  • Bring your arms inward until your forearms are touching in front of your face.
  • Return to the starting position, making sure to squeeze your shoulder blades.
  • For an added challenge and to build shoulder strength, hold small barbells while performing this exercise.

4. Lower Back Rotation

A range of motion exercise for seniors that increases flexibility and reduces stiffness

How to do the lower back rotation

  • Sit on a chair, bench, or stool with feet flat on the floor.
  • Twist your upper body to the left until you meet resistance in your shoulder and back.
  • Hold the pose for several seconds before returning to the starting position.
  • Repeat the exercise in the opposite direction.

5. Neck Rotation

Neck stretches such as the neck rotation help you maintain range of motion through the upper back and neck

How to do neck rotations

  • Sit on a chair, bench, or stool with feet flat on the floor and your face facing forward.
  • Slowly rotate your head to the left until it’s just past your shoulder, or as far as you can turn it.
  • Hold the position for several seconds, and then returning to the original position.
  • Repeat the exercise on the opposite side.

6. Quad Stretch

The quad stretch exercise targets the front of the legs to improve mobility

How to do the quad stretch

  • Sit on a chair or bench that has no arms.
  • Scoot across the seat until only one leg remains over the seat.
  • Lower your free leg until your knee meets the floor.
  • Using the chair or bench for support, lean back slightly until you feel the stretch in your front thigh muscles.
  • Hold the position for up to 30 seconds, and then return to the original position.
  • Repeat the exercise by switching sides to work the other leg.

7. Seated Ab Press

A move that anyone can perform, the seated ab press strengthens your core and improves posture

How to do the seated ab press

  • Sit on a chair, bench, or stool with feet flat on the floor and your face facing forward.
  • Put your hands on your and lock your elbows in place.
  • Press your hands into your knees until you feel your abdominal muscles engaging.
  • Hold the position for several seconds and then relax.

8. Side Bend

A mobility exercise for the elderly that improves core strength and stretches your abs, hip flexors, and thighs

How to do the side bend

  • Stand straight with your arms at your sides and feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend your waist towards the left, allowing your left hand to travel down your thigh to your knee.
  • Hold the position for several seconds, and then return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the workout moving in the opposite direction.

9. Side Bend with Overhead Reach

For an added challenge, this exercise for the elderly with limited mobility incorporate the arms

How to do the side bend with overhead reach

  • Stand straight with your arms at your sides and feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Raise both arms directly overhead with your fingers pointed upward.
  • Slowly bend your waist towards the left, all while keeping your arms extended upward.
  • Hold the position for 15 seconds, and then return to a standing position.
  • Repeat the exercise on the opposite side.

10. Side-to-Side Squat

A more advanced exercise to improve mobility for seniors, the side-to-side squat focuses on maintaining healthy joints

How to do the side-to-side squat

  • Stand upright with your legs spread comfortably apart.
  • Bring your arms up in front of you, interlocking your fingers, and bend your knees slightly.
  • Lean forward, and then moving slowly to maintain control, shift your weight to your left leg, extending your right leg until it’s straight.
  • Hold the position for just a second, and then immediately shift your weight to your right leg, extending your left leg until it’s straight.
  • Repeat the motions for several reps before returning to an upright position.

11. Single-Leg Stand

Practicing a single-leg stand improves balance and coordination while strengthening your leg muscles

How to do the single-leg stand

  • Stand behind a chair in case you need support to do this exercise.
  • Stand with feet close together and your arms at your side.
  • Bend your left knee to bring your left leg up.
  • Stand on one foot with your other knee bent for up to 30 seconds.
  • Lower your leg, and repeat the workout with your opposite leg.

12. Sit-Down Squat

Also known as chair squats, this exercise to improve mobility and balance will also strengthen your core and legs

How to do the sit-down squat

  • Sit on a chair, bench, or stool with feet flat on the floor and your face facing forward.
  • Cross your arms in front of your body, resting your hands on opposite shoulder blades.
  • Lock your knees and slowly raise yourself from the chair until you are in a standing position.
  • Take a breath, and reverse the position to return to a seated position.

The Benefits of Elderly Mobility Exercises

The benefits of mobility and range of motion exercises for seniors cannot be overstated. Keeping active keeps the elderly health in many different ways.

old people exercising

Better Mental Health

Being able to get up and move when you please plays a huge role in support good mental health — in this case, freedom equals happiness. Working out can also improve your mood and help you relieve tension and manage stress.

Improved Cardiovascular Health

Stretching and light aerobic exercise helps you maintain a stronger heart without too much strain. It also improves circulation, which can help with maintaining good blood pressure and heart rate.

Increased Weight Control

There is a strong correlation between decreased mobility and obesity. While physical activity alone won’t cause you to drop pounds, exercise can decrease inflammation and help burn fat.

Stronger Social Ties

When you have the ability to get up and move, you’re more likely to maintain active relationships with friends and loved ones. Being able to get out of bed, get dressed, and drive can be what separates you from a senior who stays isolated.

Resistance to Injury

Range of motion exercises for the elderly allow you to maintain balance and flexibility. When you feel steadier and stronger on your feet, you’re less prone to accidents, such as falls. Stronger muscles can also help you recover faster should you injure yourself.

FAQs

How can the elderly improve mobility?

Becoming active is one of the best ways to improve mobility. Physical activity keeps your muscles strong and your joints flexible so that walking, climbing, and other day-to-day activities go a little easier.

How to get the elderly walking again?

The first step to improving mobility is to take things slowly. Moving too quickly can easily lead to falls and other injuries. Start with stretches for older people to improve flexibility. From there, perform strength training that focuses on the core and legs to support the body in movement.

Where should I do these mobility and stretching exercises?

One of the best things about these full body mobility exercises is that you can do them nearly anywhere. Many only require a chair, while others need no equipment at all.

How do I start a full-body mobility routine?

Consider your mobility shortfalls to decide which workouts you should concentrate on. For example, if you’re suffering from poor range of motion in your shoulders, look for stretches and strength training that target these particular muscles.

What are the best mobility exercises for beginners?

Most of the mobilization exercises we describe above are suitable for beginners. They don’t require any special equipment or skills, so you can perform them anywhere and anytime. If you’re just starting a mobility program, it’s best to start with stretching exercises. From there, look for workouts that will assist with your daily activities. For example, exercises to help put socks on or reach overhead will help keep you independent.

Wrapping Up

Practice the above exercises to increase mobility, and you’ll be well on your way to better balance, increased flexibility, and better overall health.

If you’re looking for more ways to stay active in your golden years, we can help! Check out our recumbent exercise bike buying guide for advice on choosing the right piece of equipment.

About the author

Becky Britton

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