Stay Fit Over 50 With These 11 Gentle Stretches

Written by Charushila Biswas , MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist

Stretching exercises for seniors are beneficial for anyone over 50. It is possible to take care of your body and age in a healthy, graceful manner. Stretching exercises are great because high-impact exercises may cause injuries as most older adults have reduced mobility, strength, flexibility, and other health conditions. Low-impact stretching, on the other hand, helps improve flexibility, mobility, balance, and coordination. They are also good for improving mood, circulation, and quality of life (1). Take a look at these 11 gentle stretches you can do at home. Do them for 20 minutes every day. Scroll down to get started!

11 Easy Stretching Exercises For Seniors

1. Neck Stretch

How To Do

  • Sit on a chair. Keep your feet flat on the floor, roll your shoulders back, and look ahead.
  • Place your left hand underneath your left thigh. Alternatively, hold on to the chair seat.
  • Cup the right side of your head with your right hand. This is the starting position.
  • Bend your neck to the right and gently press with the right hand to stretch your neck.
  • Avoid tucking your chin or tilting your head. Keep the neck straight.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
  • Relax and switch sides.
  • Do this 5 times.

2. Tricep Stretch

How To Do

  • Sit on a chair with the feet flat on the floor. Roll your shoulders back and look ahead.
  • Raise your right hand over your head.
  • Bend the elbow and touch the back of your head or neck with the right palm.
  • Place your left hand on the right elbow.
  • Push the right elbow gently to stretch the right upper arm (triceps).
  • Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and relax.
  • Repeat with the left arm.
  • Do this five times.

3. Shoulder Blade Stretch

How To Do

  • Sit on a chair, keep your feet flat on the floor, roll your shoulders back, and look ahead.
  • Reach your right arm across your body.
  • Place your left hand on the right elbow and push it gently to stretch the shoulder blade and triceps.
  • Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and relax.
  • Repeat with the left arm.
  • Do this five times.

4. Chest Stretch

How To Do

  • Sit comfortably on a chair or the bed.
  • Grab a resistance or therapy band, extend your arms, keep them shoulder-width apart, and look ahead. This is the starting position.
  • Open your arms wide to stretch your chest muscles.
  • Hold the position for 5 seconds and return to the starting position. Keep breathing normally throughout the steps.
  • Do this 10-15 times.

5. Side Stretch

How To Do

  • Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Roll your shoulders back and look ahead.
  • Raise your right hand.
  • Bend your body to the left.
  • Hold this position for 5-10 seconds.
  • Relax and switch sides.
  • Do this 10-15 times.

6. Hamstring Stretch

How To Do

  • Stand behind a chair and hold the backrest.
  • Take a step (or two) back and bend the elbows slightly. This is the starting position.
  • Bend from your waist until your back is parallel to the floor to stretch the back of your legs.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Do this 10-15 times.

7. Quad Stretch

How To Do

  • Stand beside a chair (to your left). Hold the backrest with your left hand. This is the starting position.
  • Bend your knee to lift your right leg and hold the foot with your right hand to stretch the leg muscles.
  • Hold the stretch for 5-10 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Move to the other side of the chair and repeat with the other leg.
  • Do this 10 times.

8. Hip Abduction

How To Do

  • Stand behind a chair with your feet together. Hold the backrest for support.
  • Roll your shoulders back and look straight. This is the starting position.
  • Lift your right leg off the floor sideways and as high as possible to stretch the thigh muscles.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat with the left leg.
  • Do this 10 times on each leg.

9. Hip Stretch

How To Do

  • Sit on a chair with the legs shoulder-width apart, feet flat on the floor, and hands resting on the thighs.
  • Lift your right leg and place the ankle on the left knee. This is the starting position.
  • Bend down (as far as possible) and try to touch the right knee with your forehead.
  • Hold the stretch for 10 seconds.
  • Relax and repeat 10 times before switching legs.

10. Calf Stretch

How To Do

  • Stand behind a chair, hold the backrest for support, keep the legs shoulder-width apart, feet flat on the floor, roll your shoulders back, and look ahead.
  • Take a step back with your right leg.
  • Flex your left knee and move your body forward to stretch the calf muscle. Keep your feet flat on the floor when you do this stretch.
  • Hold this stretch for 10 seconds and relax.
  • Repeat with the left leg.

11. Toe Stretch

How To Do

  • Stand behind a chair and hold the backrest, keep the legs shoulder-width apart, feet flat on the floor, and roll the shoulders back.
  • Lift your toes off the floor. This is the starting position.
  • Hold this position for 5-10 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10-15 times.

Consult a doctor before you do any of these stretching exercises. Also, do a 10-minute warm-up before starting. Doing these stretches regularly will help you get the following benefits.

Benefits Of Stretching Exercises For Seniors

  1. Improve mobility
  2. Increase flexibility
  3. Reduce back, shoulder, hip, and leg pain
  4. Improve blood circulation
  5. Strengthen the muscles and bones
  6. Improve mood
  7. Make day-to-day tasks easier
  8. Improve quality of life

Even if it is a simple stretching exercise, you must always take a few safety precautions to avoid injuries and accidents.

Safety Precautions To Take

  • Do not exercise if your doctor does not allow you to.
  • Seek help from a physical therapist if you have osteoporosis or arthritis.
  • Start with a lower number of repetitions.
  • Do the exercises on a bed/sofa/chair.
  • Take the support of a chair or the wall for standing exercises.
  • Exercise on an anti-slip yoga mat to prevent accidental falls.

The Takeaway

Aging is inevitable. However, coping with the physical changes is easier when you take care of yourself. With the right diet and exercise, you can continue to age gracefully. If you are over 50 and want to improve your mobility, balance, flexibility, and coordination, do these 11 stretching exercises after consulting your doctor to help you stay healthy and feel your best at any age.

References:

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  1. Active stretching improves flexibility joint torque and functional mobility in older women
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21119314/
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