Total Body Stretch for Seniors

This total-body routine takes you through simple, relaxing moves to stretch your hamstrings, quads, calves, back, chest, and arms. Flexibility is essential for staying fit and agile and functioning at your best. Incorporate stretching as part of your exercise program to boost your workout.

Benefits of Stretching

According to the American Council on Exercise, stretching can help your body in several different ways. These can include:

  • Better posture: Stretching your shoulders, chest, and back supports proper back alignment.
  • Decreased back pain: With better posture comes less back pain. Stretching the upper leg and pelvis area lowers tension on the lower back.
  • Enhanced circulation: Muscles and joints receive better blood flow during stretching, delivering essential nutrients throughout the body.
  • Faster recovery: After a tough workout, stretching loosens muscles so they don't become as stiff and sore.
  • Greater functioning: Stretching improves the body's ability to perform day-to-day activities.
  • Increased range of motion: This helps you stay more nimble.
  • Lower risk of injury: A muscle that's been well stretched can handle sudden movements more easily without straining.
  • More relaxed muscles: Tense muscles may not be getting the oxygen and nutrients they need. Stretching helps muscles to relax.
  • Reduced stress levels: Taking a few minutes to breathe deeply during a stretch gives you a chance to focus on your body and meditate.

Precautions

See your doctor if you have any medical conditions, illnesses, or injuries to determine if any modifications should be made while stretching. Be sure to review basic guidelines about stretching to do it safely and correctly.

How to Do a Total-Body Stretch

This stretching routine requires a chair, exercise ball, or bench. You will perform most of these stretches seated. You can do this routine at home or at the gym.

  • Begin with a 5-10 minute warm-up of light cardio (such as walking in place).
  • Hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds and repeat one to three times.
  • Perform these stretches after a workout or after muscles are warm from a hot bath or shower
  • For best results, stretch after cardio and strength-training workouts.
1

Quad Stretch

Active middle-aged couple stretching by the beach

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Do this exercise standing or lying on the floor. Hold onto a wall or chair for support. Bend one knee, bringing the foot up behind you towards your backside. Grab onto the foot or ankle with your hand and point the knee towards the floor to feel a stretch down the front of your thigh. Repeat on the other side.     

2

Hamstring Stretch

Sit on a bench or on a chair with another chair across from you. Stretch one leg out, toes up, with the other foot on the floor. Keep your back straight and abs engaged and bend forward from the hips until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your leg.

Note: If you've had a hip replacement, check with your doctor before doing this stretch.

3

Calf Stretch

Stand with your hand on the wall for support in a split stance—one leg forward and one leg back. Press the back heel towards the floor and lean the body forward until you feel a gentle stretch in your calf. Repeat on the other side.  

4

Back Stretch

Clasp your hands together in front of you and round your back, pressing your arms away from your body. You should feel a stretch in your upper back. 

5

Torso Stretch

Sitting or standing, clasp your hands straight up overhead, palms facing the ceiling. Gently lower your upper body to the right side until you feel a stretch down your left side. Switch sides and repeat.

6

Triceps Stretch

Bend the left elbow behind your head and use the right hand to gently pull your left elbow back further until you feel a stretch in the back of your upper arm. Switch sides and repeat. 

7

Chest Stretch

Clasp your hands behind you and gently straighten the arms, lifting them slightly until you feel a stretch across your chest and shoulders. 

A Word From Verywell

A thorough stretching routine gives you a chance to connect with your body and reflect on how you feel. Too often, we rush through the day, paying little attention to our muscles, joints, and overall well-being. Make a habit of stretching (especially after exercise) to keep your body limber and ready to handle the stressors of daily life.

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  1. American Council on Exercise. Top 10 benefits of stretching. October 7, 2014.