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5 Gentle Exercises for Maintaining Senior Health and Mobility

5 Gentle Exercises for Maintaining Senior Health and Mobility

Just because we age doesn’t mean we don’t continue to live well. Maintaining health and wellness into our golden years comes with challenges, but incorporating exercise into our daily routine is the best solution. Exercise has many benefits for senior health, and Phoenix senior living communities offer exercise programs to keep their seniors living well. Here at BridgeWater Assisted Living communities, we host exercise programs for all ability levels since we know exercise is the key to better mental and physical health and helping seniors stay independent.

A few benefits of exercise for older adults include preventing bone loss, relieving osteoarthritis pain, preventing chronic disease, boosting immunity, and improving mental health. While exercise has many benefits, it’s crucial to ask a healthcare practitioner before starting any form of exercise, especially if you have joint and spine conditions. 

Here are five gentle exercises we use in our Phoenix senior living community for maintaining senior health and mobility: 

1. Joint Circles

Joint immobility is one of the conditions that Phoenix senior living residents can be challenged with. Luckily, gentle movement of the joints is low-impact and can even relieve pain. Be gentle with these movements and work within your range of motion. Over time, you can increase the number of reps and the range of motion. 

Start standing near a wall or sturdy piece of furniture you can steady yourself with. Wiggle your toes. Lift one foot and begin to flex and point the foot a couple of times, then make a circle with your foot in one direction and then the other. Bend your knees a couple of times. Stand with your feet a little wider than your hips and do a small circle with your hips, like you were trying to draw a little circle with your tailbone to the floor. Start to circle your wrists in one direction and then the other. Wiggle your fingers. Circle your arms in small circles and roll your shoulders. 

2. Bird Dog

The “bird dog” exercise is commonly used to strengthen and stabilize the back, hip, and abdominal muscles. As we age, we lose muscle mass, and our backs can often suffer because of this. Dr. Stuart McGill, one of the leading researchers in back pain, recommends this exercise to prevent back pain.

Start with your hands and knees on the floor with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Firmly press your hands into the ground, drawing your shoulders back. Engage your abdominal muscles towards your spine and keep your pelvis neutral by pressing your lower back into the ground so it isn’t overly arched. 

Maintaining this alignment, slowly reach one arm forward, with the palm facing the pinky finger on the floor. Slowly take the opposite leg and sneak it back behind you on the floor. Keep the toes pointing down, touching the floor as you maintain the alignment in the body. For an extra challenge, lift the arm to shoulder height in front of you and the leg behind the hip. Hold the position and breath for five breaths, then switch to the other arm and leg. 

Alternative versions of this exercise are to practice it in a chair or standing. It is also considered a weight-bearing exercise, which helps strengthen bones. Regardless, this exercise works many muscles simultaneously, so you’re getting a lot out of just one move!

3. Cat and Cow Yoga Poses

Cat pose is a versatile stretch for the back, and Cow pose provides extension and strength for the spine. Both combined can be done in a chair or on hands and knees and can increase spine mobility. Another great benefit is activating the relaxation response in the body, which helps with anxiety and stress. 

Starting from either the hands and knees or in a chair with your hands on your knees, find a neutral pelvis with the shoulders relaxed down the back and the head level. For the Cow pose, draw the shoulders down and the breastbone forward and up, tilting the pelvis forward. For Cat, reverse the action by rounding the back, sliding the shoulders away from the spine, lowering the chin towards the chest, and tucking the pelvis. Repeat and add an inhale as you move into Cow and Exhale as you move into Cat. Repeat a few times, as long as it feels good.

4. Twists

Twists strengthen the rotational abdominal muscles and stretch the spinal muscles. They also improve your back’s rotational abilities and decrease your chance of injury. These are all important components of staying mobile and independent. 

A simple twist can be done from a seated position. Make sure you’re sitting up tall. Allow the rotation to start from the rib cage and turn to one side, letting your arms support the position. Stay for five breaths before turning to the other side. 

5. Figure Four Stretch 

The figure four stretch is a common exercise for people with hip and back tension and can relieve certain sciatica symptoms.  Either lie on your back or sit in a chair. Bend one leg, flex your foot, and place that ankle on the opposite knee. If you’re in a chair, hinge forward from your hip to lean your body over your legs. If you’re on your back, use a towel or your hands to grab the leg supporting your ankle and pull it towards you. Stay for five breaths and change legs. 

Finding things that keep you healthy and active will help you continue to enjoy life in Phoenix senior living, and incorporating exercise into your daily life is one of those ways. At BridgeWater Assisted Living communities, you’ll find a wide variety of exercise and fitness programs along with wellness centers for our residents. Visit if you want to see an innovative, high-quality lifestyle at an affordable price.