Seated Flexibility Exercises for Seniors
Flexibility is an Important Component to Physical Health at Every Age and Ability Level
As we age, daily activities like standing up from a chair and getting in and out of bed can become increasingly difficult. Decreases in muscle mass, muscle strength, flexibility, and lubrication of our joints are a natural part of aging and generally the cause behind these limitations. But, that doesn’t mean we must accept limited mobility as our fate. Even for seniors who are recovering from injuries, or who are restricted to a wheelchair, there are a lot of exercises that can help maintain flexibility and strength.
Flexibility is the ability of the muscles and tendons to lengthen and stretch in response to movement, and allow joints to move through a full range of motion. In addition to being a necessary component to day-to-day life, maintaining good flexibility through stretching can reduce the symptoms of arthritis and relieve lower back pain, reduce the risk of falling, support good posture, and improve circulation.
Flexibility and Strength Training Go Hand in Hand
Research shows that strength training coupled with stretching exercises is the most effective way to improve flexibility. Stretching supports muscle strength, improves flexibility and range of motion, and increases circulation and blood flow. When combined with resistance training, stretching can help keep joints flexible, making it easier to comfortably perform the activities that fill our days.
For older adults with mobility and balance issues, and those recovering from surgery or injury, or those restricted to a wheelchair, building strength and flexibility is a challenge. After all, when your range of motion is severely limited, so are your number of exercise options.
In situations where standing exercises are simply not possible, seated workouts are essential.
An effective, whole-body seated workout includes movements designed to increase mobility, support cardio fitness, improve muscular strength, and expand flexibility. These 8 seated strength-training exercises are an effective way to increase whole-body strength through resistance training. When coupled with the following flexibility exercises, they are an effective way to support the independence of wheelchair bound seniors and improve daily life.
Each of the following exercises should be performed in a full range of motion to maximize gains in flexibility and reduce the risk of injury. It’s important to note that intense stretching designed to increase flexibility should follow resistance training, because some studies have shown that intense stretching before resistance training can decrease our ability to train with high-intensity.