9 Easy Exercises for Seniors to Do at Home

  • Evidence based
  • Fact checked
Senior citizens performing simple limited mobility exercises

Mobility is important and so is fitness. But how does one stay fit when mobility itself is challenged and the strength and balance needed for fitness is dwindling? Here are a few easy and effective exercises for seniors to do at home.

Regular exercising is very important for optimal health. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals like dopamine, endorphins, and adrenaline that are used by the body to relieve stress and protect you from the risk of certain diseases. These chemicals are also mood enhancers.

Physical disabilities like pain in the knees or other bones and joints may restrict some of the body functions. This doesn’t mean that you stop exercising. Experts say that restricted mobility does not have to affect physical activity [1]National Institutes of Health: Physical Activity Program Helps Maintain Mobility. In fact, exercising and mobility training are safe options for seniors with reduced mobility. 

Usually, senior people with restricted mobility or with movement disorders, find it challenging to go to a gym or leave the house. But if you can apply a little creativity, there are a lot of mobility exercises for seniors to do at home.

List of exercises for seniors to do at home

We have listed the 9 most researched and popular flexibility exercises below. These exercises are also the best exercises for seniors with restricted mobility. They can also be incorporated into a plan of exercise for the physically disabled.

Legs – Chair Stand

Aerobic exercises like complete stretching and strength training can be beyond your capabilities when you have reduced mobility. However, you can try low-impact aerobic workouts that are good for building muscles and dealing with stiff joints. These leg strengthening exercises are also good for your heart and are mood enhancers.

You can start with one of the basic leg exercises called ‘Chair Stand’. This is one of the best exercises for seniors to do at home. It works well against mobility issues arising due to damage and pain in the legs. It strengthens your leg muscles. 

  • Try to stand up slowly from your chair and sit down.
  • Use your arms to support yourself.
  • Focus on your movement and try to control the muscle group.
  • Try to do this at least 5 times every day.
  • Do not push yourself too much. Do it slowly and gradually.

Arms – Bicep Curls

Bicep curl is a weight training bicep exercise. It builds and strengthens the upper arm muscles, especially the bicep brachii area and lower arm muscles to some extent .

  • Sitting in your chair, keep your elbows to your side and your arms out.
  • Hold a half-filled water bottle in each hand
  • Your palms should be facing upward.
  •  Keep your shoulders relaxed.
  • Bending the elbow, slowly lift the weights in your hands towards your shoulders.
  • Inhale slowly.
  • Your elbows should be close to your ribs.
  • Now slowly lower your arms to the previous position.
  • Exhale slowly.
  • Do these 8 to 10 times every day.

Shoulder – Shoulder Rotations

Shoulder rotation is another exercise that you can do sitting right in your chair. Doing this will release tension in your shoulders and hands and will promote arms mobility.

  • Sit straight in your chair.
  • Slowly lift your right shoulder towards your right ear.
  • Bring back your shoulder down.
  • Do this with the left shoulder too.
  • You can do this with both shoulders at the same time.
  • Try doing this exercise at least 15 times on each side.

Back – Ceiling Stretch

Doing stretching exercises while sitting on your chair is the simplest when you have limited mobility. You can perform these movements while you watch TV too which makes it a convenient exercise for seniors to do at home. Ceiling stretch is very effective for people suffering from arthritis.

  • Sitting on your chair, stretch your arms overhead completely.
  • Push your palms outward
  • Keeping your arms straight, bend forward from the waist.
  • Slowly go back to your normal position and rest your arms.
  • Now, do the same movement sideways too.

Don’t push yourself too much. You will progress slowly if you do this regularly.

Abs – Seated Twists

Seated twists is a basic abs exercise in which your waist’s movements help you burn tummy fat.

  • By sitting in your chair, hold a ball with both hands at chest length.
  • Twist your waist to the right to the maximum extent possible.
  • Stay in this position for 3 to 5 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat this towards the left side.
  • You can also do this without the ball.

Do this at least 10 to 12 times on each side every day.

Fingers – Fist Stretches

For most people, major mobility challenges are with hands and fingers. Just like other parts of the body, fingers too need exercise. Regular exercising with focus on finger muscles and joints can improve mobility.

  • Do simple hand stretches by making a fist.
  • Then slowly spread the fingers wide.
  • Repeat this for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • You can also do this using a stress ball.

This exercise will release the tension in hands and fingers and will promote mobility.

Hips – Three Way Stretches

The most common issue for people with reduced mobility is hip bones and joints. It is quite challenging to address this problem but there are a few simple movements that can help against reduced hip mobility.

  • Stand and hold a table facing it.
  • Slowly raise your right knee towards your chest, as high as you can.
  • Lower the right knee and do the same with the left knee.
  • Now, keeping the left foot on the floor, slowly lift the right leg sideways.
  • Bring back the right leg and do the same with your left leg.
  • Do this for 3 to 4 minutes every day.

You will need a little space for doing these movements. This exercise is very good for hips, glutes, and particularly back muscles.

Joints – Gentle Yoga

Yoga styles like Vinyasa yoga/hot yoga might not be suitable for people with reduced mobility. Instead, relaxation practices like gentle stretching along with deep breathing can be easily done by people of all abilities and ages.

Gentle stretching with a focus on breathing offers benefits like better mobility and an enhanced immune system. Gentle yoga, if practised regularly, eases joint pains by reducing swelling in them.

Heart – Chair Boxing

If standing is an issue, punching the air in front of you can be easily done by sitting on your chair. This is a cardio exercise that ups your heart rate. It promotes blood flow and a good way to sweat it out. Doing this regularly, keeps your heart strong and healthy.

Do this exercise as fast as you can but remember that you should not fully extend your elbows. You can also try punching the air above you towards the ceiling. Do these by completing at least 25 punches on each side.

How to start exercising with reduced mobility

Talk to your physician or doctor before you begin exercising for reduced mobility. Choose 2 or 3 of the above exercises and try them for a couple of weeks. Begin with doing them for 15 to 20 minutes initially. You can progress gradually and increase the time.

You can use different weights and try resistance band workouts. Remember not to push your limits when it comes to pain as this might worsen your mobility issue. Do not forget to give time to your body, to cool after every session and warm up before every new session.

Benefits of exercises for seniors to do at home

Experts are largely united in the opinion that seniors should aim to be as active as possible. It is true that advancing age poses new challenges everyday when it comes to exercising and staying fit. Improved flexibility offers a lot of physical and mental benefits that affect your overall health. Below are just some of the research [2]National Library of Medicine: Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence based benefits older adults can reap from regular exercising: 

Increased strength: Mobility exercises increase your muscle strength and make you more flexible. Your body will develop enough strength to support you when you are physically fit.

Reduced risk of injuries: Developing flexibility and strength will help you withstand increased physical stress. Additionally, it will eliminate muscle imbalance. This way, the probability of getting injured during exercising will be reduced [3]PubMed: Exercise to Reduce Mobility Disability and Prevent Falls After Fall-Related Leg or Pelvic Fracture: RESTORE Randomized Controlled Trial .

Reduced aches and pain: Once your muscles get used to a certain workout, there will be an overall feeling of betterment. As your muscles lose tension, there will be less pain and aches.

Improves body posture and balance: Muscle flexibility exercises help in improving your posture. Your body will be better aligned. These exercises also increase your range of motion and improve balance.

Positive mind: Engaging yourself in regular exercising activities offers greater body relaxation. This also extends in offering a relaxed mind.

Take Away

Yes, advancing age comes with its own challenges. But try to change your perspective towards them. Try to become more creative with every challenge that comes your way. You just have to find an exercise routine that fits you well or a way around to fit yourself into an exercise format. 

Necessity is famously referred to as “the mother of all inventions”. If you truly desire to be fit, you can always find a way to be so. Moreover, you are sure to enjoy exercising as long as you keep experimenting. Make exercising a part of your daily routine. You are sure to notice a positive change.

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