A widely-held belief is that the aging process unquestionably corresponds to diminished mobility and flexibility. Although it’s correct that health conditions including osteoarthritis impact large numbers of seniors, it’s also true that you can take proactive measures to help guarantee optimum strength and stamina through your later years.
One of the best means to enhance mobility is introducing flexibility exercises for seniors, and incorporating these into a daily routine. Stretching leads to better posture and movement of joints, coupled with decreased muscle soreness and tension. It can also help lessen the likelihood of falls and other injuries, and boosts circulation, balance, coordination and muscle control.
Always check with your loved one’s physician before beginning any new fitness program, including stretching. With his or her approval, the following are wonderful stretches for older adults:
- Gradually bring down the chin towards the chest area, and turn the head to one side for a count of 15; then repeat with the opposite side.
- Clutching a towel in one hand, raise the arm vertically and hang the towel behind the back; then grasp the bottom end of the towel with your other hand and stretch downward, holding for a count of 30.
- Lift both arms straight out to your 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, lift one foot up and shift slowly from one side to another. Repeat with the other foot.
- While lying on your back, raise one leg, grab onto the back of the thigh, and lightly draw it towards you as the other leg and hip remain on the ground. Try not to pull on the knee. Repeat with the other leg.
- Lie on one side and move the top leg so that your foot is behind you. Grab the foot and pull towards the body until a stretching sensation is felt. Hold for a count of 30 and repeat with the other leg.
- While lying on your back, bend both legs and put feet together and flat on the floor. With knees together, carefully bring down both legs to one side, moving the torso until a stretching sensation is felt. Hold for a count of 30 and repeat on the other side.
Always bear the following in mind when performing these stretching exercises:
- Breathe in deeply and exhale slowly during the entire stretch.
- Use slow, controlled movements.
- Don’t ever stretch to the point of feeling pain.
- Warm the muscles up prior to stretching with a few minutes of physical activity, such as walking.
To get more ideas to assist seniors with mobility and flexibility, reach out to the Columbia home health care experts at Home With You. We are 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 gym for exercise classes. To learn more about our exceptional home care services, contact us at 410-756-0959 and take the initial step towards a healthier life for a senior loved one!