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Best Stretching Exercises for Seniors

Best Stretching Exercises for Seniors

Whether you’re hitting the weights at the gym, going for a stroll with friends, or just getting ready for the day it’s important to include stretching into your daily routine. The best stretching exercises for seniors are stretches that focus on the muscles you use the most in your daily activities. Stretching offers your body huge health benefits like muscle flexibility, strength, and range of motion all of which can prevent joint injury or other health problems.

In this article:

There are two important types of stretching to focus on before and after physical activity. Dynamic stretching is best done before your activity because it helps wake up the neuromuscular system and get your body and joints ready for exercise. Dynamic stretches should mimic the movements you will do during your exercise or physical activity.

Static stretches are best done after your physical activity when your muscles are warm and pliable. Holding static stretches in place for 30 seconds can help muscles recover faster and lead to less pain and stiffness.

What Are Good Stretches for Seniors?

Regular stretching offers numerous physical and mental health benefits for seniors. These exercises enhance flexibility, blood flow, posture, and balance, reducing the risk of falls. Some studies have shown that stretching can increase serotonin levels, reduce stress, and generally feel better.

Some of the best stretching exercises for seniors focus on hip flexors and thoracic rotation and extension movements that improve flexibility and range of motion in the hips and upper back region while countering the effects of prolonged sitting.

“When these muscles become short and tight, they contribute to poor posture, low back pain, and poor mobility,” Ageility Fitness Manager Kathryn Cunningham says.

When static stretching, try to hold your stretch for 30 seconds to give your muscles time to relax. Other great static stretches for seniors include:

  • Neck: bring your chin toward your chest and turn your head side to side.
  • Shoulder and upper arm: hold a towel in one hand over your head, letting it drape down behind your back.
  • Chest: extend both arms to the side with palms facing outward and reach back with your hands. Use a wall if you have a hard time holding your arms up.
  • Hamstring: lie on your back and extend one leg perpendicular to your body Grasp your thigh, not your knee, and slowly pull your leg towards you.
  • Quadriceps: Lay on your side and bend your knee to bring your foot behind you. Pull your foot towards your body. You can use a belt or towel to help if you can’t reach your foot.
  • Lower back: Lay on your back with knees bent, feet together and feet flat on the floor. Lower legs to one side, twist your torso until you feel a stretch.

These additional safety tips from The National Institute on Aging can assist you in your stretching exercises.

  • Stretch when your muscles are warmed up.
  • Stretch after endurance or strength exercises.
  • Don’t stretch so far that it hurts.
  • Always remember to breathe normally while holding a stretch.
  • Consult your doctor if you are unsure about a particular exercise.

Stretching Exercises Before Walking for Seniors

We all know that any physical activity is good for your health, but walking in particular is a great way to boost immune function, increase cardiovascular benefits, and prevent frailty in seniors.

Try warming up before a walk with dynamic leg stretches, marching in place, and swinging your arms. Follow it up with a short walk, cool down, and another stretch. Repeat this process a couple of times before you set out.

Golf stretching Exercises for Seniors

Before teeing off, spend a few minutes warming up with some golf stretching exercises. Take slow warm-up swings without the club that are half the range of your normal swing. Then pick up your club and gradually increase the range of your swing.

Ageility clinical specialist Heather Ford says that a simple, active warmup of your muscles before any workout is important.

“Getting the body moving prior to starting any activity is the best way to prepare your body for the ‘work’ it is going to do during your desired activity,” Ford said.

Stretching Exercises for Seniors with Arthritis

If you have arthritis you know the challenge of waking up with stiff joints. Doing a few gentle stretches in the morning can help ease your discomfort. The best stretch for you depends on the type of arthritis you have. Consult your physician before trying out any new stretches. It’s important for every stretch to stretch to the end range of a muscle, but never so much that it’s painful.

Physical Wellness at Five Star Senior Living

At Five Star Senior Living, residents have fun and stay active through our holistic Lifestyle 360 program. We believe the path to independence is rooted in regular exercise and physical wellness, which is why we offer exercise classes, group activities, and more.

With our partners at Ageility, you have access to an entire suite of services, from physical, occupational and speech therapies to wellness and personal fitness training—everything you need to maintain strength, mobility and true independence. Find a community today and discover a healthier and more fulfilling chapter in life.

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