The pain and worry this brings can lead to an even more sedentary lifestyle. However, this self-preservation may only make the problems experienced now worsen over time.
You need to stay physically active no matter your age. If you’re feeling increased discomfort or pain because you’re aging, it’s all the more important to get moving, stretch your joints, and improve your balance.
Exercises and Stretching You Can Do At Home
Understandably, it can be difficult to exercise work when you’re already feeling muscle weakness, but don’t despair! If you have been a sedentary senior and want to get moving again, here’s a roundup of exercises you can do in the comfort of your living room.
Seated Knee to Chest
This is an excellent stretching exercise that you can do. The seated knee to chest exercise aims to improve the mobility in your hips and knees, as well as the flexibility of your lower back.
Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Straighten your back. Lift your right leg and grasp it with your hands, and slowly pull it as far as it is comfortable, towards your chest. Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds, then gently put your leg down. Repeat it with the other leg and do so alternately 10 to 20 times, or as many times as you can to start with.
You can also do a knee to chest exercise while standing, which will help improve your balance. Perhaps try this one when your muscles get stronger.
Overhead Side Stretch
This exercise aims to loosen up muscles in your back, shoulders, and abdomen. You can do it while standing or sitting, depending on your mobility.
To start, raise your arms above your head, then slowly lean to your left side and hold it for 10 to 30 counts. Repeat on the right side and do it alternately for 10 to 20 repeats.
If raising your arms over your head is difficult, you can put your arms on your hips instead as you lean to your sides.
Shoulder and Triceps Stretch
If you’re experiencing stiff shoulders and muscle pain in the area, this shoulder and triceps stretch can help. It aims to loosen up the joints on your shoulders and improve their mobility. This stretching exercise can help alleviate muscle pain and prevent deterioration.
You can do this exercise while sitting or standing tall with your back straight. Let’s start with the shoulders.
Pull your right arm across your chest and below shoulder height. Grab it with your left hand, slowly feeling the stretch on your shoulder. Count 10 to 30 while holding the position, then repeat with your left arm. Do 10 repeats.
Moving to the triceps, which is what is often the flabby underarm area, raise both your arms over your head. Bend your right arm behind your head and hold your right elbow with your left hand. Gently pull your elbow backward as you feel the stretch in your upper arm. Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds, then repeat with your left arm. Do 10 repeats.
Many seniors complain of having lower back pain and weak legs. This hamstring stretch, which is the muscle in the back of the top part of your leg, targets these areas, decreasing stiffness and improving flexibility and mobility.
Sit on the floor, then extend one of your legs out. Lean forward and try to reach your thigh, knee, or ankle slowly, feeling the stretch on your hamstring. Hold it for 10 to 30 seconds while avoiding hyperextension of your hamstring. Repeat with the other side and alternate for 10 reps.
Toe Taps and Heel Raises
A sedentary lifestyle can make your feet and ankles feel stiff and weak, and the lower leg muscles even weaker. Toe taps and heel raises loosen up the joints and strengthen the lower legs and upper calves. They also help improve blood circulation in your legs.
Let’s start with toe taps. Sit straight on a chair and keep your heels on the floor. Lift your toes high and feel the stretch on your muscles along your shin, then tap them back on the floor. Repeat 20 times.
With heel raises, you keep your toes and the balls of your feet flat on the floor, then lift your heels. Repeat this 20 times.
If you’re a sedentary senior, it’s important to increase your physical movements to alleviate any joint or muscle pain you’re experiencing. Start with light activities, such as moving around your home, walking slowly, cleaning and dusting, vacuuming, and standing up. Stretching and balancing exercises will help boost your strength, flexibility, and mobility.
Make sure you take long strides too! Don’t take little tiny steps as you will be allowing your muscles to shrink even more, not stretch and extend as they should.