Stretching is valuable at every age. Whether you’re flexing sore muscles after a workout or releasing tension before bed, stretching is a fantastic way to relax, increase your range of motion, and maintain your mobility — so you can keep doing the activities you love, without the aches and pains.
Starting a routine of morning stretching exercises offers a gentle and relaxing way to limber up before you start your day. Simple morning stretches for seniors can be done in under ten minutes, supplying a healthy boost just as the caffeine from your morning coffee kicks in.
Sticking to a daily stretching exercise routine offers a host of health benefits. Stretching relaxes tense muscles that may be contributing to poor posture, and can help prevent falls by improving balance and flexibility. Stretching also helps relax your parasympathetic nervous system, which is our body’s way of balancing our ‘rest and digest’ state with our ‘fight or flight’ impulses. A good stretch releases your body’s ‘feel good’ chemicals, which means a morning stretching routine can improve your outlook for the day.
Five Easy Stretching Exercises to Start Your Day
The best habits are the ones that stick, and following through on any new habit is easier when you add it to an activity you’re already used to doing. Do you enjoy sleeping in a few extra minutes every morning? Do your stretches in bed. Talk about an easy way to form a healthy routine. Doing your stretches as you wait for your morning coffee, before breakfast, or just before you put on your slippers to add a new habit to your existing routine.
Be sure to develop a stretching routine you enjoy—this is key to keeping up the practice. Although any change in your exercise routine should follow your doctor’s recommendations, there are many simple morning stretches to add into your day.
Here are some of the best morning stretches for seniors:
1. Sphinx pose
This gentle yoga posture can easily be done in bed or on a mat. Sphinx pose limbers up your spine and improves flexibility in your upper body. To start, roll onto your stomach. Rest on your forearms with elbows either directly underneath your shoulders or slightly in front of them, then lift your chest and upper body off the floor or mattress.
Your feet and lower body should be straight out behind you, gently opening up the muscles in your chest and back. Hold this pose for 30-60 seconds.
Read more about top yoga poses for flexibility
2. Banana pose
Another simple stretch that comes from yoga, the banana pose is an easy side stretch for your lower back and obliques (side stomach muscles). Like sphinx pose, it can be done in bed!
Start lying down, with your legs straight and arms stretched above your head with hands clasped. Keeping your shoulders and body on the mat (or bed), gently slide your arms to the left, as well as your legs (keep your hips still) until your body is in a gentle curve—like a banana!
Relax your belly, and hold the pose for 8-10 breaths before switching sides.
3. Hip stretch
Hip pain is common in older adults, who can benefit from stretches to strengthen the hip region as well as reduce any discomfort. After the banana pose, ease into this simple hip stretch that’s ideal for stiff hips.
Remain on your back with your legs out straight. Bend your right knee and place your right foot onto the bed or mat, then drop the knee to the right, as far as you feel comfortable. Rest the sole of your right foot against the side of your left knee (or lower, depending on your level of comfort and flexibility). Then, either let gravity pull your leg to the floor or gently push down on your knee until you feel a stretch. Hold for 10-15 seconds, then switch sides.
For an additional stretch, draw your knee in towards your chest instead of out to the side. Place your hands underneath your thigh to hold it in place for another 10-15 seconds before switching sides.
4. Shoulder stretches
To start the shoulder stretch, lift yourself to a seated position on your bed or on a chair. Pull one arm across your chest, keeping the elbow below shoulder height. Place your opposite hand on the extended arm’s forearm to hold it in place. You should feel a stretch in your shoulder, which will release tension in the joint. Repeat on the other side, holding this pose for 30-60 seconds each.
5. Seated toe taps
Now that your upper body is feeling more limber, work your way down to your legs and ankles with a seated toe tap. This exercise stretches your legs and ankles and improves balance and coordination.
To start, sit up straight with your feet flat on the ground. Pull your toes toward the ceiling as far as you can comfortably go, keeping just your heels on the floor. Then push your toes down like you’re pressing on a gas pedal. Do this eight to 10 times. Repeat the exercise three times.
Stretching starts your day right
Whether you’re a fitness guru or just starting your wellness journey, building healthy habits into your daily routine doesn’t need to be a chore. When you start your morning with a stretch, it’s easy to add more activity to your fitness routine throughout the day—Just sign up for Boomerang classes such as online Yoga, online Pilates or mindful movement classes. By making time to stretch, you help your body move more easily and stay flexible and active for years to come.
Learn more about our online wellness classes for older adults.