As seniors age, finding an exercise routine that works their core muscles and improves upper body strength can be challenging. However, bed mobility exercises are a great option that can improve seniors' health and wellness, especially for inactive seniors and those who have gone for long periods without exercise.
Benefits of Bed Exercises For Seniors
Although it varies, guidelines from the CDC indicate that older adults need at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity such as brisk walking, at least 2 days a week of activities that strengthen muscles, and balance-related activities about 3 days a week.
Taking part in exercise can improve a senior’s mental and physical well-being. Some benefits of exercises for seniors include cognitive and mood enhancements, increased brain function, improved immune system, greater flexibility, and balance.
Easy Bed Exercises For Seniors
There are many different types of workouts for seniors, including stretches to promote flexibility and warm up the entire body, leg-strengthening techniques to boost muscle strength in the lower body, and core strength moves to engage the abdominal muscles.
Stretching is a good way for elderly people to start their day. When stretching, it is important to avoid any pain and go slowly at the start to see which position you are comfortable with.
- Knee to Chest - Lie down on your back with your legs straight. Slowly pull one knee toward your chest until you feel a gentle pull. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then do the same on the other side.
- Ankle Pumps - While lying on your back, point your toes toward your head and away from your body as far as they go, alternating movements.
- Overhead Shoulder Flexion - Lying on your back, hold a light object like a towel with both hands. Lift your hands over your head as far as they can go while tightening your abdominal muscles. Keep your elbows straight and back flat, and slowly lower down.
- Wrist Stretch - With one hand, slowly press your opposite hand down, moving your palm towards your forearm. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and do the opposite movement.
- Neck Stretch - Slowly bring your right ear to your right shoulder until you feel a stretch. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Leg routines can help improve stability in the feet. While lying flat, some options are available to you, such as leg lifts.
- Hamstring Sets - With one leg bent and your foot on your mattress, press your heel into the mattress as you lay on your back. Hold for 5 seconds and release.
- Quad Sets - With your torso flat, tighten the muscle on the top of your thigh as you press the back of your knee. Hold for 5 seconds and release.
- Hip Abduction - With your torso flat, move one leg sidewards without bending your side torso. Keep toes and knees pointed at the ceiling and hold for a few seconds.
- Straight Leg Raise - Alternating legs, squeeze your abdomen, lift the opposite leg about 6 to 8 inches above the mattress, and lower it back down.
Core movements target the lower stomach and help improve your balance as you do everyday tasks.
- Posterior Pelvic Tilt - With your legs bent and your feet on the mattress, press the base of your lower back into the mattress. Hold for 5 seconds, then release.
- Supine March - With your legs bent and your feet on the mattress, tighten your stomach and hold one knee toward your chest for a few seconds. Lower it back down, then repeat on the other leg.
- Glute Set - As you lie down, tense your buttock muscles. Hold for 5 seconds, then release.
Resistance Bands Exercises
Those looking for an extra challenge can also do simple exercises with resistance bands to raise the intensity level and improve overall health.
- Band Pull Aparts - As you lie down with your feet flat, hold a resistance band with your hands about shoulder-width apart, palms down. Tense your core and move your shoulder blades together as you pull your hands apart.
- Diagonal Shoulder Flexion - As you lie down, hold one end of a resistance band in each hand. Put your hands together with your right hip. Move the left hand over your left shoulder in a diagonal line with your elbow straight. Lower and repeat on the other side.
- Clamshells - Lie down on your side and bend both knees. Lay on your side with your knees bent. Position the resistance band around your lower thighs. Tense your abs and bring your knees apart and together slowly.
Bed Exercises Safety
While bed exercises have health benefits for most seniors, these routines do not treat underlying mobility problems or issues — like blood pressure and heart disease — and it may be best to consult a doctor before undergoing a routine.
Some tips that may benefit older adults include:
- Listening to your body and stopping as soon as you feel any pain or feel dizzy or uncomfortable
- Get additional support from a friend, caregiver, family member, or personal trainer
- Begin at a lower intensity and gradually work towards more advanced movements
- Keep in mind that everyone will have their own limitations and needs while exercising
Frequently Asked Questions
Before doing any exercise, here are some things you and your loved one should keep in mind.
What type of exercise is best for elderly?
Ideally, exercises like walking or jogging, dancing, swimming, and biking are good exercises seniors should do. Weights and resistance bands are also a good idea.
What is the best time of day for seniors to exercise?
Research shows that most people will have more energy to work out later in the day, but there is no best time of day to start an exercise program.
Should seniors exercise before or after breakfast?
Seniors can do physical activity before or after breakfast, but it is important to avoid high-intensity workouts if you eat too much or too little.
What exercises should seniors avoid?
Seniors should avoid high-intensity movements like the bench press, deadlift, leg press, and long-distance running.
At the end of the day, exercising comes with many benefits when it comes to the well-being of seniors. Many positions like sit-ups, leg lifts, and more can be highly beneficial for bed-bound seniors or those who are new to exercise.
Read on to learn more about senior health and wellness tips on Senior Strong today!