Senior Citizens' Health Boosting Stretches in Bed

Easy Ankle Rolls in Bed

Good golly, Miss Molly!  This is so easy it can't be exercise!
Good golly, Miss Molly! This is so easy it can't be exercise! | Source

Everyone awakens from sleep and needs to get the body ready to move. However, senior citizens may have extra challenges in becoming functional after a night of sleep. We all know that health is our most valuable asset. To support optimum health, this set of stretch-in-bed exercises is described.

Senior Stretches in Bed

I base Senior Stretches in Bed ™ on very gentle yoga and other exercise philosophies. Your life will be better – with circulation pumping as you make the transition from sedentary sleep mode to getting your muscles warmed up. This sequence does not require standing up or maintaining balance while working a particular body part. We want to warm up those standing, walking, and balancing parts of the body before we ask them to work. The point of these exercises is to do them in the morning while still in bed. Please forgive the metaphor, but it reminds me of a car which needs a little warming up before you put it in gear. Treat the machine right and it serves you well. It’s the same thing for our body.


The usual caveats apply – first check with your health professional before starting these stretches. If you have dizziness, nausea or pain while doing any of them, stop immediately and consult your healer.

What exercises can be done on a bed (with sheets and blankets covering you)? This partially depends on the snugness and weight of the covers versus your strength. Additionally, your internal clock will influence how much you fly through the stretches or sluggishly perform them. Are you a morning person versus night or afternoon person? Circadian rhythms, in my opinion, play a large part in the waking up emotional perspective of us all. Nonetheless, whatever our highest energy part of the day, we need to be ready to move around.

All of the following stretches should be repeated a few times. I leave the exact number of repetitions to the exerciser.

Working the Ankles

Point toes to opposite wall.
Point toes to opposite wall. | Source
Flex toes so that they point towards the face.
Flex toes so that they point towards the face. | Source
Ankle rolls.
Ankle rolls. | Source

Exercises while lying flat on your back in bed:


Shoulder shrugs – Shrug both shoulders up to the ears and then move them back down and relax.

Shoulder rolls - Roll both shoulders in circles one way for several repetitions and then switch to rolling in the other direction. One is Up and to the back and around. The other is Up and to the front and around.

Cheesy smirk – Close your lips and smile broadly. Tighten the corners of your mouth –bottom lip up to top lip. This strengthens muscles which, when weak, allow drool to drip. So, keep them firm and keep your face perky. Tighten and relax several times.

Head side tilts – As you do this, remain looking up at the ceiling and keep your shoulders where they are in a relaxed position. Now try to put an ear on your shoulder. You won’t really be able to touch them together. Do several on one side and then several on the other side.

Head back - Start by looking at ceiling. Slowly tilt your head to look at the wall behind you. Return to start position.

Shoulder blade touch and squeeze – Try to have your shoulder blades touch each other. Squeeze and hold for a second. Then relax. Repeat.

Toe point and flex – Point the big toes of both feet towards the opposite wall. Then flex the feet to be pointing at your face. Do several repetitions.

Ankle rolls – Roll your feet in circles clockwise many times, then roll counter clockwise same amount.

Butt squeeze – The most amusing way to describe this exercise is to pretend there is a one-thousand dollar bill folded in your butt crack and that someone is trying to take it away. Squeeze both butt cheeks to keep the money! Then relax. Repeat a few times.

Deep belly breathing – Inhale in a big deep, slow way to make your belly get very big. Slowly exhale in a relaxed manner. Do back and forth slowly for one minute. You should feel better after doing this one. It usually invites an emotional lift.

Shoulder sway – Keep your butt and legs flat on the bed. Do a small gentle twist with your shoulders and head only to roll only them from side to side. This can be a very small movement and you would feel a gentle stretching or twisting along the sides of your ribcage.

The Anti-Drooling Exercise

Squeeze those corners of the mouth.  Don't let those muscles get lazy!
Squeeze those corners of the mouth. Don't let those muscles get lazy! | Source

Exercises while lying with knees bent and feet and back flat on your bed:


Ankle lift - Keep your toes touching the mattress and lift your heels up. Hold for a second. Put the heels back down. Do many times.

Butt lift - Have both feet flat on bed. Lift your butt up about 2 inches and slowly (in control – not a release “flop”) lower it back down. Repeat.

Knee swing - With both feet flat and your bent knees together, keep your shoulders and trunk flat on the bed. Swing your knees slowly left and right.

Shoulder lift - Start in your original position lying flat with bent knees. Look at your feet and lift your top of back and shoulders a few inches. This is a “crunch.”

March in place – Keep your knees bent and do a gentle march.

Again, do Deep belly breathing – Inhale in a big deep, slow way to make your belly get very big. Slowly exhale in a relaxed manner. Do slowly for one minute.

Exercises while lying on one side with knees bent in a comfortable position on your bed:


Top knee to chest – Keep your bottom leg in its comfortable slightly bent position. With your top leg only, raise your knee towards the chest. Slowly return to starting position. Repeat.

Top leg lift - Keep your top leg bent and raise it straight up away from the other leg and the bed about 4 inches. Lower it with control - not a flop. Do several repetitions.

Top arm circles – Stretch the top arm as much as your bed to wall position permits and circle your arm clockwise several times, then same counterclockwise.

Top arm stretch – Point your arm towards the ceiling. Stretch as if trying to put your palm on the ceiling. Relax with arm remaining up. Then, stretch again a little farther. Relax with arm up. Stretch a third time trying to get closer to touching the ceiling.

Again, Deep belly breathing – Inhale in a big deep, slow way to make your belly get very big. Slowly exhale in a relaxed manner. Do slowly for one minute.

Shrug the Shoulders Up to the Ears

Loosen everything up!
Loosen everything up! | Source

Switch sides. Same exercises while lying on your other side with knees bent in a comfortable position on your bed:


Top knee to chest – Keep your bottom leg in its comfortable slightly bent position. With your top leg only, raise your knee towards the chest. Slowly return to starting position. Repeat.

Top leg lift - Keep your top leg bent and raise it straight up away from the other leg and the bed about 4 inches. Lower it with control - not a flop. Do several repetitions.

Top arm circles – Stretch the top arm as much as your bed to wall position permits and circle your arm clockwise several times, then same counterclockwise.

Top arm stretch – Point your arm towards the ceiling. Stretch as if trying to put your palm on the ceiling. Relax with arm remaining up. Then, stretch again a little farther. Relax with arm up. Stretch a third time trying to get closer to touching the ceiling.

Again, Deep belly breathing – Inhale in a big deep, slow way to make your belly get very big. Slowly exhale in a relaxed manner. Do slowly for one minute.

Reach for the Ceiling

Nice easy stretches get your entire being glowing.
Nice easy stretches get your entire being glowing. | Source

We can do it!

We want to be proactively aware of higher potential incidence of body difficulties as we enter our later part of life. Baby Boomers are adamant that they will not age. Well, they may not get that wish, but everyone can benefit from exercise to keep the “physical plant” in tiptop shape. Senior Stretches in Bed ™ is transitional and gradual. The point of these exercises is to do them in them while still in bed before you sit, stand, and walk.

Sensible exercise invites fewer muscle problems, we hope. It also leads to the benefit of better mental attitude because the mind-body connection does exist. Furthermore, a better life for you means a better life for your extended family and your future caregivers.

Photos and text copyright 2011 Maren E. Morgan, all rights reserved.

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Comments 6 comments

tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 5 years ago from California

I am battling with my father-in-law over his anti- exercise attitude. This is a wonderful hub. I will present these exercises to him. All his other exercises say lay down and then... Well if he doesn't have to get up he might try your ideas. Voted up and useful


Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 5 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

Thanks, tirelesstraveler. When I first came acroos the concept of doing exercises while lying on the floor - I thought it was brilliant! So, I adapted the concept to seniors and to doing them in bed. Tell your father-in-law I'd appreciate his review.


Senior Citizen Exercise 4 years ago

I love the Hub Page. Allot of good information

http://exerciseseniorcitizens.com/


Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 4 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

Glad you find it useful!


Grammagill profile image

Grammagill 4 years ago from Florida

Loved this hub being one that worked with the elderly for year's, and caring for my aging Mother-in law 4 year's. I have used these exercises in both cases. It is better accepted as it uses less engery on the part of the elderly. Gave you a U-A.


Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 4 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

Thanks, Grammagill. These make a lot of sense: if one is trying to loosen up and warm up ankle joints, fore example, there is no need to also worry about balance and weight bearing with other parts of the body.

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