It’s a common myth that the aging process unequivocally equates to reduced mobility and flexibility. Although it’s true that conditions including osteoarthritis affect a large number of seniors, it is also true that you can find practical steps to ensure the highest level of strength and stamina through your later years.
The best flexibility exercises are those that help improve mobility, and are simple to add to a daily routine. Stretching and flexibility lead to improved posture and movement of joints, as well as reduced muscle soreness and stress. They can also help reduce the likelihood of falls and other accidental injuries, and they increase circulation, balance, coordination and muscle control.
Always check with the senior’s health care provider before beginning any new fitness program, and this includes stretching. Together with or her permission, the following are ideal stretches for older adults:
- Gradually lower the chin towards the chest, and move the head to one side for a count of 15; then repeat with the opposite side.
- Clutching a towel in one hand, lift the arm straight up and drape the towel behind the back; and then take hold of the bottom end of the towel with your other hand and stretch downward, holding for a count of 30.
- Raise both arms straight out to the sides, with palms facing forward; gradually reach the arms straight back until a stretching sensation is felt, and hold for a count of 30.
- From a seated position, raise one foot up and move slowly from one side to another. Repeat using the other foot.
- While lying on your back, raise one leg, grab onto the back of the thigh, and carefully draw it towards you as the other leg and hip stay on the ground. Be careful not to pull on the knee. Do it again with the other leg.
- Lie on one side and bend the top leg so that your foot is behind you. Reach for the foot and draw it towards the body until a stretching sensation is felt. Hold for a count of 30 and repeat using the other leg.
- While lying on your back, move both legs and place feet together and flat on the ground. With knees together, carefully lower both legs to one side, rotating the torso until a stretching sensation is felt. Hold for a count of 30 and repeat on the other side.
Keep the following under consideration when executing these stretching exercises:
- Inhale in deeply and exhale slowly throughout the stretch.
- Use slow, controlled movements.
- Never stretch to the level of encountering pain.
- Warm the muscles up just before stretching with a few minutes of physical movement, such as walking.
For lots more suggestions to help older adults improve strength and mobility, reach out to the Franklin home health team at Live Free Home Health Care. We’re always on hand to offer motivation and encouragement, to participate with seniors in exercise programs, and also to provide transportation and accompaniment to the senior center or fitness center for exercise classes. To learn more about our services in Franklin and the surrounding areas, email or call us at 603-217-0149 and take the initial step towards a healthier life for a senior loved one!