13 Basic Flexibility Exercises For Older Adults

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Having trouble performing even basic physical activities lately? You might be losing flexibility. Keep reading for easy flexibility exercises older adults can do to combat stiff joints and muscles!

In this article:

13 Easy Flexibility Exercises to Prevent Stiff Joints and Muscles

Upper Body Flexibility Exercises

1. Arm Raises

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This stretching exercise may aid in improving overall shoulder flexibility. It's ideal for older adults who feel their shoulders tighten up whenever they have to raise their arms up.

Shoulder flexibility is important for overhead activities such as reaching high shelves, changing lightbulbs, cleaning the gutters, fixing the ceiling and painting the walls, among others.


  • Stand upright with feet shoulder-width apart and arms hanging relaxed at the sides.
  • Carefully lift your arms up until they fully extend overhead. This is one rep.
  • Do 10 reps.

2. Finger Stretch

Beaming retiree making workout in fitness center | back flexibility exercises for dancers

The finger stretch is a simple yet very effective exercise for improving hand, wrist, and finger motion. It's ideal for preparing your hands for various day-to-day activities such as texting, typing, writing, and driving, among others.


  • Hold your arms out in front with the palms facing downward. Your arms should be parallel to the floor.
  • Open and close your fingers 10 times.
  • Make sure to grasp the fingers firmly when closing and extend them fully when opening.

3. Overhead Tricep Stretch

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Tight triceps can be quite painful, especially when left alone. To prevent the pain from worsening, try stretching the tricep muscles at least twice a day. Short, daily stretching sessions are more beneficial than long, infrequent ones.

This is ideal for older adults who engage in sports and physical activities that heavily rely on triceps such as tennis, golf, and basketball.



  • Hold your right arm out in front with your palm facing upward.
  • Slowly pull your arm backward by bending your elbow. Try to touch the back of your shoulder so your tricep would be exactly beside the face.
  • Use your left hand to push your right tricep even further back.
  • Hold for 15 to 20 seconds then repeat with the other arm.

4. Overhead Stretch

Seniors doing exercises in a retirement home | good stretches for dancers to improve flexibility

The overhead stretch improves shoulder flexibility allowing one to lift their arms freely and perform various overhead activities such as reaching high shelves. This is best paired with similar shoulder-loosening flexibility exercises like arm raises.


  • Sit upright on a chair with your hands resting on your lap.
  • Then, interlace your left and right hands' fingers with each other.
  • Take a deep breath then slowly push your arms up until they're fully extended overhead. Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times.

5. Chest Stretch

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The chest stretch is one of the best types of flexibility exercises to ease chest pains caused by muscle soreness. This soreness may be the result of poor sleeping positions, bad posture, or lack of exercise.


  • Sit upright on a chair and place your hands behind your hand. Your elbows should flare out to the sides.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, release, then repeat three times.

Note: Please consult with a medical professional if you are unsure of the cause of your chest pains. In worse cases, chest tightening may indicate an oncoming heart attack.

6. Shoulder Rolls

Elderly people doing exercises in the gym. | how to become extremely flexible for danceWhat makes shoulder rolls so cool is you can do them any time and anywhere. It doesn't matter whether you're driving, typing, drawing, or even cooking. All you need is a few seconds to shrug your shoulders up and down.


  • Sit upright with your back pressing against the chair. Let your arms hang loose at the sides.
  • Slowly shrug your shoulders up, hold for one count, then release. Repeat 10 times.

7. Reach Back Stretch

Thai massage cobra pose outdoor. Feet on the back. Yoga outdoor, side view. | full body flexibility for seniors

The reach back is a multipurpose stretching exercise that helps improve shoulder flexibility, loosen tight back muscles, and release chest tightness.


  • Take a deep breath, extend your arms behind your back, then clasp your fingers together.
  • While exhaling, slowly stretch your arms even further behind. Repeat 10 times.

Lower Body Flexibility Exercises

8. Ankle Circles

Middle-aged woman suffering from pain in leg at home, closeup. Physical injury concept. Ankle pain, painful point | flexibility exercises for seniors

A few ankle circles before hitting a light jogging or walking session is just what you need to prevent foot sprains and injuries! In some cases, it might even help suppress mild ankle inflammation


  • Sit upright with your feet hip-width apart and hands grasping the sides of your chair.
  • Extend your right leg up then proceed to rotate your ankle clockwise 10 times then counterclockwise another 10 times.
  • Repeat with your other leg.

9. Knee-to-Chest Stretch

group of senior people stretching in yoga mats in studio | advanced stretches for dancers

The knee-to-chest stretch is one of the simplest flexibility exercises for lower back pain. It stretches both the hips and knees while stimulating lower back mobility.


  • Sit upright with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Then, lift your right leg up and pull your knee toward your chest. You can use your arms to further pull the leg back.
  • Hold for 10 to 15 seconds then repeat with your other leg.

10. Seated Lifts

woman-mask-doing-arm-exercise-park | types of flexibility exercises

Seated lifts are a great exercise for those who want to stabilize their pelvis and lower back. It may help improve overall balance and lower back mobility.


  • Sit upright with your hands grasping the sides of the chair for support.
  • Then, raise your left knee off of the chair by bringing your left knee up toward the chest. Note that you don't necessarily have to hit the chest.
  • Hold for 20 seconds then repeat with the other leg.

11. Hip Side Stretch

Active senior woman stretching on the pier on a sunny day | equipment to improve flexibility

The hip side stretch is a great exercise to improve hip mobility and balance. It's ideal for older adults who experience side hip pain when standing still for a prolonged period of time.


  • Stand around 12 inches away from a wall and turn your body so your left side's facing away from it.
  • Cross your left leg over the right leg then slowly push your right hip toward the wall.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat, but this time, with your left side facing the wall.

12. Back Stretch

Upset mature middle aged woman feels back pain massaging aching muscles, sad senior older lady suffers from low-back lumbar pain sitting in incorrect sedentary posture, backache radiculitis concept | flexibility exercises list

As one ages, it's perfectly natural to have difficulties bending forward and crouching down. A good way to combat these issues is to perform flexibility exercises that would support trunk and spine motion.


  • Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and hands on the back of your hips. Your palms should be pressed against the back.
  • Stretch your back further by arching backward. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Repeat three times.

13. Hamstring Stretch

Senior fitness man training and doing workout outdoors in city. | lower body stretches for seniors

Do you often feel an aching pain behind your thighs while walking, moving around, or even just standing? If so, you might not be stretching your hamstrings enough.

Perform a few reps of hamstring stretches daily to improve leg and lower back flexibility. Doing so will help you perform activities that require you to bend down more easily.


  • Place your right leg on a flat bench that's up to your waist. Let your left leg hang on the side.
  • Extend your arms in front then slowly reach for your knees. You don't have to bend forward.
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds then repeat with your other leg.

These are just some of the best flexibility exercises for seniors and older adults to prevent stiff joints and muscles. Feel free to explore other options!

Just make sure, however, to consult with a doctor if you have any preexisting medical conditions that may hinder you from performing these movements properly. Also, don’t force yourself to do exercises you’re not comfortable doing. Stop right away if you feel any kind of pain.

Do you perform other basic exercises not mentioned on the list above? Please do let us know in the comments section below.

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