12 Gentle Seated Stretching Exercises for Seniors in 4 Minutes

Seated stretching improves senior health

Chair exercises like stretching are perfect for seniors because they can be adapted for physical limitations, minimize the risk of injury due to falls, and still give health benefits.

The only equipment needed is a sturdy, non-slip chair.

Stretching helps ease joint pain and muscle aches and also improves mobility, flexibility, coordination, and circulation.

On top of the physical benefits, it also reduces stress and boosts mood.

We found a simple and quick 4 minute routine of seated stretching exercises for seniors.

This free video takes seniors through 12 gentle stretches that ease tension and improve flexibility throughout the body.


Follow along with the 12 seated stretching exercises for seniors

1. Begin by sitting with good posture in a sturdy, non-slip chair (20 sec in video)
The ideal posture is to sit upright, engaging abdominal muscles, with feet on the ground, knees over toes, thighs parallel to floor, and hips aligned with legs.

Not everyone will be able to use this ideal position due to physical conditions, surgery, or injuries.

To prevent pain or injury, just do the best possible and focus on keeping the body aligned and comfortable.

2. Overhead stretch (30 sec in video)
Take a deep breath in and stretch arms up toward ceiling. Exhale and bring arms back down.

3. Upper back stretch (44 sec in video)
Make a circle with the arms and drop the chin down toward the chest. Push toward the opposite hand and focus on spreading the shoulder blades apart.

4. Chest stretch (1 min 12 sec in video)
With arms at sides, focus on pulling the shoulder blades together and down toward the ground.

5. Side stretch (1 min 38 sec in video)
Slowly lean over to one side without collapsing the upper torso, keeping abdominal muscles engaged. Repeat on the other side.

6. Deeper side stretch (1 min 54 sec in video)
Reach one arm up and over while leaning the body to the side to get a deeper stretch. Keep the arm by the ear. Repeat on the other side.

7. Spine twist (2 min 11 sec in video)
Cross arms over chest and slowly twist upper body to one side. Try not to move the rest of the body. Repeat, twisting to the other side.

8. Back of thigh stretch (2 min 40 sec in video)
Scoot forward on the chair and sit a bit closer to the edge. Extend one leg straight out in front with heel of the foot on the ground, foot flexed.

Slowly and gently, bend forward at the hip, keeping the back straight. Repeat on the other side.

For a deeper stretch, extend arms toward toes while bending forward at hip.

9. Ankle circles (3 min 27 sec in video)
Sit back in the chair again and lift one foot up off the ground.

Slowly circle the ankle in one direction and then in the other direction. Repeat on the other side.

10. Shoulder rolls (3 min 42 sec in video)
Bend arms at the elbow and roll shoulders back, making slow circles in the air with elbows.

Then, make the same motion, but this time, the circles would be going forward.

11. Head circles (4 min in video)
Turn head to look over one shoulder. Very slowly, drop the chin and circle the head around and bring it up to look over the other shoulder.

Then drop the chin again and circle the head back to the original side.

12. Overhead stretch (4 min 13 sec in video)
Take a deep breath in and stretch arms up toward ceiling. Exhale and bring arms back down.


Reminder: safety and comfort are most important

The most important thing in exercise is to keep your older adult comfortable and injury-free.

Follow the instructor’s movements only as far as is comfortable. None of these movements should cause pain.

Even if someone can only do some of the range of motion or needs to skip some stretches, they’ll still benefit from the routine.

Over time, their flexibility and strength will improve and they’ll be able to do more and more.

Remind your older adult to always move slowly and gently and to pay attention to their body. It’s better to do a little less rather than risk getting hurt.


Next Step  Get 12 free, simple seated stretching exercises for seniors in a quick routine (4 min)


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By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Falls Prevention


This article wasn’t sponsored and doesn’t contain affiliate links. For more information, see How We Make Money.


  • Reply August 29, 2020

    Betty Patterson

    Hello –
    I am behind in reading my daily care emails. I read this one this AM as it contains information about exercises for those who use walkers. The video on the email is rather small for me to watch and do the exercises at the same time. Is it available somewhere that I can buy? Also, where can I find other videos of exercises for handicapped people? I will greatly appreciate your information. I do gather a lot of information about how to handle my husband who has Alzheimer’s. I save most of your emails for future reference and have recommended them or sent copies of them to many of my friends.

    • Reply August 29, 2020


      Thanks for your kind feedback! We’re so glad that our articles are helpful and very much appreciate your sharing them with your friends.

      These videos are available for free on YouTube. To make the screen full size (as large as your device’s screen), click or tap the small rectangular icon in the lower right corner. Or, click / tap the YouTube logo next to it in the lower left corner area to open the video in YouTube.

      We’ve got a wide variety of articles about senior-friendly exercises here on our website (many include videos) – https://dailycaring.com/tag/exercise/

      There are also many wonderful gentle exercise DVDs available for purchase on Amazon. Here are a few that we like:
      – Stronger Seniors® Stretch and Strength https://amzn.to/2QIqJlj
      – Gentle Sitting Tai Chi https://amzn.to/3jEsXir
      – Stronger Seniors® Chair Yoga https://amzn.to/2YKToLh

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