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Posture Exercises for Seniors

Posture Exercises for Seniors: Gentle Daily Exercises to Improve Posture for Seniors

By Maurice

Posture Exercises for Seniors

For as long as we can remember, people have been telling us to stand up straight. To sit up in our chairs. Sometimes it’s assumed that people slouch because they’re sloppy or lazy. That’s usually not the case. Poor posture more often results from weakness in the muscles that keep us in an upright position. That’s particularly true for senior citizens.

Please click the button below to download a free PDF of the exercises in this article:

Keep in Mind:

Before starting any new exercise(s), we strongly recommend you follow the advice of the National Institute on Aging and consult your doctor.  

What are Posture Exercises for Seniors?

If you’re not sitting and standing properly, the answer is not to grit your teeth and try harder. Instead, do some exercises to help the muscle groups that will make it easier. Muscle-building exercises aren’t only for children and younger adults. People of all ages can join in.

Many posture exercises are not difficult. Often they start with a more mindful approach to how we sit and stand, and extend that with a few natural motions that build coordination and muscle tone. They can be standing, sitting or floor exercises, but all of them involve motions that feel natural and improve the way we use our bodies in day-to-day activities.

What are the Benefits of Posture for Seniors?

When you’re been bending forward for a long time, maybe working at a desk or a kitchen counter, what do you do? If you’re like most people, you straighten up, lean back and extend your back and neck. And it feels good, doesn’t it?

A primary benefit of posture exercises is that they make you feel better. You stand taller and straighter after a session.

Posture and balance are an issue for Americans of all ages, but they’re problems that carry more risk for seniors. Also, they prevent injury and deterioration. If poor posture continues without remediation though exercise, if can lead to muscle weakness. There’s a chance of joint pain and even structural change in your bodies. Seniors with poor posture and balance are more likely to fall.

Best Posture Exercises for Seniors

Posture exercises run the gamut from easy to demanding. The good news is that many are easy and gentle for the elderly, and many more require only a moderate amount of strength and agility. Here are 12 that can put you on the road to improved balance and greater enjoyment of the activities of daily life.

Daily Posture Exercises for Seniors

1. Standing Straight: Mountain Pose

Is standing up straight really an exercise? Well, the fact is that most people don’t do it well and can use practice. One of the best ways to stand tall and feel good doing it is with a yoga position called the Mountain Pose.

  • Stand with your feet no more than shoulder width apart. Make sure they’re side by with neither in front of the other. Your arms are at your side
  • Build your posture from the feet up. Lift and spread your toes and set them back down.
  • Let you body sway a tiny bit then relax into a centered position.
  • Lift though your ankles and knees and tighten your thigh muscles.
  • Your abdomen remains relaxed.
  • Continue to lift upward through your spine. Imagine the crown of your head reaching for the ceiling.
  • Let your shoulders fall back and relax.
  • Look straight ahead.
  • Hold 30 seconds to a minute.

Do this as the first exercise in a routine, or just to take a healthy break and feel better any time of day.

2. Sitting Straight: Spinal Extensions

You spend more time sitting than standing, so comfortable and proper sitting is even more important.

  • Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Lift your rib cage.
  • Sway on your hips until you find a centered position.
  • Gently move your chin forward and back until your head is comfortable and centered.
  • Inhale and sit up tall. Reach the crown of your head toward the ceiling.
  • Exhale and relax.
  • Repeat 10 times.

Take it slow to ensure good balance. If you feel uncomfortably dizzy, skip this one.

Gentle exercises to improve posture for seniors

Here are three more easy routines.

3. Shoulder Rolls

These can be done either sitting or standing. They’re simple and they feel good.

  • Stand up straight or sit straight in a chair. Your arms are at your side or resting in your lap.
  • Lift your ribs and relax your spine into a centered position.
  • Roll your shoulders up, back and around. Do 10-20 times in a continuous motion. Make the circles as large as you comfortably can without moving your torso.
  • Now do 10-20 rolls in the opposite direction.

4. Chin Tucks

Another one that can be done sitting or standing. This works the neck. If your neck bends forward improperly, it can throw your entire posture off.

  • Sit or stand straight.
  • Pull your chin straight back. Don’t let it lift toward the ceiling or lower toward the floor. Imagine you’re making a double chin.
  • Jut your chin out, keeping it on that level plane.

Repeat 10-20 times.

5. Wall Tilts

  • Stand straight with your back against a wall.
  • Move your feet out about a foot from the wall, keeping your shoulders and pelvis against the wall.
  • Inhale as you arch your back.
  • Exhale and flatten your back into the wall.
  • This can be done with your arms at your sides, or, if it’s comfortable, place a flat hand behind your back and squish your hand into the wall on the exhale.
  • Repeat about 10 times.

Back Exercises for Posture for Elderly

For good posture you need muscle tone in many parts of your body. Here are a few that build up the shoulders, arms, legs and hips for their role in good body position.

6. Shoulder Squeezes

These can be done either sitting or standing. They’re simple and they feel good.

  • Stand up straight. Your arms can be either at your side, or with your elbows tucked in and bent 90 degrees.
  • Draw your elbows back and squeeze your shoulder blades toward each other.
  • Do 1-2 sets of 10-20 reps.

This can be done seated either on a bench or sitting well forward in a chair.

It can also be done standing with resistance. Loop a stretchable exercise band around a stair rail or tie a knot in the band and close a door on it. Grab one each of the band in each hand and step backward until there’s moderate tension, then do the squeezes.

7. Arm Ups

Another exercise that can be done either standing or seated in a chair without arms.

  • Sit or stand with your arms at your sides.
  • Raise your elbows to the height of your shoulders. Keep your arms parallel to the floor.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Do 1-2 sets of about 10 reps.

8. Knee Pillow Squeeze

You’re going to need a pillow or cushion between your knees. Ideally you want one large enough so that you don’t move your knees from a parallel position. You may need to fold a pillow to double it.

  • Sit up straight on the edge of a chair.
  • Place the pillow between your knees or between your thighs just above your knees.
  • Your arms can be at your side or gripping the chair.
  • Squeeze your knees together, hold for a second or two and release.
  • Don’t squeeze as hard as you can. Stop at the point where you feel steady tension along the insides of your thighs.

You can do this any time and any place even if you don’t have a pillow. Just use both of your fists between your knees instead.

9. Knee Band Push

The knee squeeze works the posturally important hip adductors. This exercise works the equally important abductors. You’ll need a strong exercise band or a belt.

  • Sit up straight on the edge of a chair.
  • Wrap the band or belt around your thighs just above the knees.
  • Your arms can be at your side or gripping the chair.
  • Spread your knees against the belt for a second or two then relax.

You can do this without equipment by holding your fists on the outside of your knees and using them to resist the outward movement.

Balance and Posture exercises for Seniors

Here are some more vigorous exercises that may require you to get down on your hands and knees, but they’re well within the reach of most seniors.

10. Bird Dogs

These can be done either sitting or standing. They’re simple and they feel good.

  • Get on your hands and knees. Hips and knees should be 90 degrees and the shoulders directly above the hands.
  • Keep looking at the floor to keep your head in a neutral position.
  • Support your back by keeping your abdominal muscles tight.
  • Simultaneously lift and extend your right arm and your left leg.
  • Hold them as straight as you can for a few seconds.
  • Return to the starting position, then repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
  • Do 1-2 sets of about 10 reps.

For an easier exercise, lift only the arm or only the leg. For a harder exercise, lift the arm and leg on the same side.

11. Cat and Cow

This classic yoga position not only improves posture and balance but is a great relaxer and stress reliever.

  • Get on your hands and knees. Hips and knees should be 90 degrees and the shoulders directly above the hands.
  • Inhale as you do the “cow” portion of the move.
  • The motion begins at the base of the spine and moves up. Lift your sit bones, round your belly toward the floor, and gradually raise your spine and neck. Imagine you’re moving one vertebra at a time. Continue through the upper back and finish looking up with your neck extended.
  • Exhale into the “cat” position. Again start at the base of your spine. Raise your belly and roll your back down, lower back through upper back through neck. End with your upper back hunched and your head tucked looking at your knees.
  • Keep a continuous movement, pausing only briefly at the extremes. Repeat 10-15 times.

12. Seated Cat and Cow

If you don’t want to get down on the floor, you can do cat and cow in a chair.

  • Sit with your feet flat on the floor. Your knees should be at 90 degrees
  • Place your hands on your knees. If you can, turn them in so your fingers point at each other.
  • As you inhale, press your hands into your knees and gently roll backward. Start at the base of your spine. As with the regular cat and cow, imagine you are bending one vertebra at a time. Finish by extending your neck and looking at the ceiling.
  • Exhale into the modified “cat” position. Roll your shoulders forward and pull your belly toward your spine. The motion should start at the lower back “one vertebra at a time” until it finishes at the neck.
  • Pause only for an instant at the extremes of the pose so that the motion is almost continuous. Repeat 10-15 times.

Now Watch Your Posture Improve

A great thing about postural exercises is that they make you more aware of your body position and how you’re sitting and standing. If you do a few of these every day, you find that you’re just more naturally carrying yourself with better form and balance. All the hobbies and tasks of daily living are a little easier and a little more enjoyable with the feeling of well-being that comes from good posture.

Even if you can’t find time to do an entire routine, pick a few to try during the day. Pause where you stand or sit to do mountain pose or spinal extensions. Take a quick break to roll and squeeze your shoulders. Work a few beneficial motions into your daily routine and soon you’ll find you stand straighter and feel better.


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