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Energize Your Mornings with a Gentle Stretch Routine for Seniors, Designed to Promote Movement and Vitality

If you wake up feeling stiff, tight, and sluggish, some gentle stretching and movement could be just what you need to start your day off right. Well+Good’s Trainer of the Month Club has you covered with a new video featuring morning stretches specifically designed for seniors.

Stretching in the morning is a natural way to wake up your body. Babies and dogs instinctively stretch their bodies when they wake up, and this is called “pandiculation.” It helps shift the body from a resting state to an active state by increasing nervous system arousal and focus.

As we age, stretching may not come as easily as it did when we were younger. It’s important to approach stretching differently and focus on stretches that help improve range of motion and posture for your desired activities. A full-body stretching routine can also benefit your overall health. Holding the stretches for a longer period of time may be necessary to fully open up the muscles and joints.

In this 19-minute video, Crunch group fitness instructor Liz Fichtner guides you through a series of morning stretches for seniors. Fichtner emphasizes taking your time and holding the poses for as long as feels good to you. The routine includes seated floor exercises, arm circles, side bends, twists, and folds, as well as stress-relief techniques for the wrists and neck. It ends with a gentle yoga flow and a relaxation pose called savasana.

To follow along with the routine, you can watch the video or refer to the instructions below.

A 20-minute Morning Stretches for Seniors Routine

Format: Stretching and mobility exercises done seated, standing, on hands and knees, and lying down

Equipment needed: A yoga mat or similar surface to lay on, and something comfortable to sit on like a pillow or yoga block

Who is this for?: Seniors who want to add movement to their mornings

Moves 1-11 are done sitting in a supported cross-legged position

1. Seated Breathing Exercise

  1. Sit on a pillow or yoga block with legs crossed
  2. Breathe deeply and lengthen your spine
  3. Repeat for 30 seconds

2. Arm Circles

  1. Extend your arms above your head and interlace your fingers
  2. Bring your joined arms in front of you and round your spine as you push your palms forward
  3. Release your arms to the sides
  4. Repeat for 30 seconds

3. Side Bends

  1. Take one arm up and over your head, leaning to the opposite side
  2. Repeat on the other side and continue alternating for 30 seconds

4. Side Bend Look-Ups

  1. While in the side bend pose, look up and open your shoulder
  2. Repeat on the other side and continue alternating for 30 seconds

5. Twists

  1. Raise both arms above your head
  2. Twist your torso to the right, bringing your front hand to the opposite knee and your back hand to the ground
  3. Return to center and repeat on the other side
  4. Continue alternating for 30 seconds

6. Twist and Holds

  1. While in the twist pose, twist your torso further and hold briefly
  2. Repeat on the other side

7. Forward Fold

  1. With your hands raised above your head, bend forward and place your hands on the ground
  2. Walk your hands to one side, hold, then walk them to the other side

Change the cross of your legs, bringing the opposite foot on top

8. Neck Stretches

  1. Lengthen your neck and create space between your neck and shoulders
  2. Tilt your head to the side for a stretch, and raise your arm on the stretched side
  3. Make a fist and rotate your wrist, then release
  4. Repeat on the other side

9. Neck Circles

  1. Drop your chin to your chest and gently rock your head from side to side
  2. Lift your head using your thumbs underneath your chin
  3. Make full circles with your head, switching directions at the top of each circle
  4. Return to a neutral position
  5. Bring your head forward, then pull your chin back into your neck

10. Shoulder Rolls

  1. Place your hands on your shoulders with elbows bent and out in front of you
  2. Open your elbows to the side, lift them up, bring them back, and return to the front

11. Wrist Stretches

  1. Extend your arms in front of you with palms facing up
  2. Pull your fingers downward with the opposite hand to stretch your wrists
  3. Repeat on the other side
  4. With palms facing down, make a fist and rotate your wrists to the side

12. Leg Lifts on Hands and Knees

  1. Come onto your hands and knees
  2. Extend one leg straight back with your toes on the floor
  3. Lift the leg parallel to your hips, then lower it down
  4. Repeat on the other side
  5. Repeat the move, but also lift the opposite arm when you lift the leg
  6. Repeat on the other side
  7. Transition into a downward dog pose with bent knees, then slowly come into a standing position

13. Standing Side Bend

  1. Stand upright and raise your arms above your head
  2. Grab your wrist with the opposite hand and bend to the side as you pull your wrist
  3. Repeat on the other side

14. Sun Salutation

  1. From standing with your hands above your head, bend over and let your hands rest naturally
  2. Place your hands on your shins or thighs and straighten your back parallel to the floor
  3. Bend forward and rise back up into standing
  4. Repeat
  5. Add a twist: At the top of the pose, twist over one shoulder with your back arm behind you and front arm in front of you to open your chest to the side
  6. Repeat the twist on the other side, then perform the sun salutation again

15. Vinyasa

  1. Come into a modified plank pose with knees on the ground
  2. Bend your elbows straight back as you lower down onto your belly
  3. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders into a baby cobra
  4. Lower back down and push back into a child’s pose

16. Hip Stretch

  1. Sit on the floor with legs out in front of you
  2. Slowly bend your knees with feet on the floor and cross one ankle over the opposite knee
  3. Hold, then repeat on the other side

17. Spinal Twists

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor
  2. Drop your knees together to one side
  3. Return to center and repeat on the other side

18. Savasana

  1. Lie flat on your back with arms extended to the side and relax your feet
  2. Breathe deeply for one minute

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