As we age, we find ourselves being stiff when we get up in the morning and having stiffness as we go about our day. If you are a sedentary person, this stiffness can give you the excuse not to do any exercise. I don’t blame you. I’m getting to that point myself. That said, it is important for you to keep that body of yours in as good shape as you can. I have two kinds of suggestions for you couch potato, computer potato people.
The first is that you need to work that stiffness out of your body so that you feel like going on with your day instead of giving up and slipping back to bed for another 40 winks. To work the stiffness out, you can belly up to the bar or if you don’t have one of those in your home, belly up to a kitchen counter. You can use either to keep from losing your balance during the stretches. You don’t want to add being sore from a fall to being stiff when you wake up.
This next part is going to be a little different for each of you, but the method is the same. Safety Alert: Do not bounce!!! You might want to start by bending over to your right side. Ouch. That’s the point at which you stop. Feel the pull, the burn, but don’t go any further. Instead breathe. After a few breaths you will find that the pull is gone. Slowly bend a little further until you feel the “ouch.” Stop and breathe again. That’s enough. You can repeat these as often as you need to so you can work the stiffness out.
For every direction that you bend, bend the opposite way. The trick here is to slowly stretch out those muscles. Do the same turning your head, reaching across your body with the opposite arm and a modified butt tuck.
The butt tuck is done holding on to the counter top and tucking in your butt toward the counter. Ouch. Hold and breathe. Can you tuck a little more? The opposite motion has to be done very carefully. Stretch out your rib cage, and bend yourself backward while doing a gentle Windex Tush-up. You should feel this in your lower back. Hold and breathe. Be sure to keep holding on to the counter top. Another good one is a modified toe touch. It is not important to get all the way down there. You want to stretch not break. Keep those knees bent.
Move about side to side, using your head, neck, arms, back and legs until you aren’t as stiff. You can do this right before you take your morning meds. It doesn’t take very long, but will help you the rest of the day. And if you get stiff during the day, just think “shampoo, rinse, and repeat” as you do some more stretches.
Low-impact chair fun
Now I have some low-impact chair exercises for you to do. What is great about these is that you are not putting added strain on your body while at the same time you are lubricating your joints, keeping flexible, stabilizing and strengthening muscles and revving up your blood flow. By doing all this good stuff, you will feel better and decrease falls.
For these you will need a sturdy straight backed chair without arms. Keep both feet on the ground unless you are exercising them.
Toe Taps are a lot of fun. Start by keeping your heels on the floor and bending your toes up toward the ceiling. Relax and do again. As you get better at this exercise, you can sit at the front edge of your seat and do the same. Do this 8-10 times.
Sit and Row is another fun one. Sit on the edge of the chair. Straighten your arms out in front of you. Put your thumbs pointing to the ceiling. Bend your elbows and draw them back as far as you can while you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Go back to the first position. Put your arms down if you need a break. Now start the whole process again and do it 8-10 times. You could even do this with one arm and as you draw back pull your shoulder blade in toward your spine.
Shoulder Rolls are meant for a good stretch. Sit tall in your chair. Shrug your shoulders up toward your ears. Slowly rotate them back, down, around to the front and back toward your ears. Switch directions. Do alternate directions 10 times each direction.
Flying in place can be a hoot. Start with your arms down at your sides. Keeping your palms facing the floor raise your arms until they are parallel with the floor. Do this slowly as if you are gliding along. Repeat 10 times.
Another fun one is the glute squeeze. Squeeze your butt muscles together as you sit on the chair. Hold for a few seconds, you could even count to ten. Then relax. Do this one 8-10 times. Actually, if you really want to get the giggles, fly in place and do the glute squeeze at the same time.
Last come two knee exercises. Knee lifts are like you are marching in place. Slowly lift your right knee in towards your chest, lower it and relax. Do this with the left one. Alternate from 8-10 times on each side.
Knee Extensions require that you grab the sides of your chair. Extend your knee, lifting your foot off the ground. Slowly kick until your leg is almost out straight in front of you. Safety Alert: Keep your knee bent!!! Lower your foot back to the ground. Lower your knee to relax. Do 10-12 of these before you switch legs.
That wasn’t so hard was it?