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Range of Motion Activities for the Elderly

Two elderly women stretching

Written by:

Jeffrey Grossman


May 20, 2020

Are you an elderly person struggling with your mobility? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s estimated that one in five elderly adults struggles with mobility issues. Luckily, if you’re struggling with your mobility, there are things you can do to improve it.

Check out this guide to discover how to increase mobility in the elderly. 


Maintain a Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do to improve your mobility as a senior. 

Having a high level of mobility depends on having healthy legs. Certain conditions such as obesity can weaken your legs and in turn, weaken your mobility. This is why maintaining a healthy weight is so essential. Here are some tips you can implement to maintain a healthy weight:

  • Get at least 75 minutes of intense exercise per week or 150 minutes of moderate exercise (or a combination of both)
  • Drink plenty of water to improve your energy, prevent headaches, and detox your system
  • Eat healthy, whole foods
  • Get plenty of sleep each night and try to wake up and go to bed at the same time each day

By implementing these tips, you’ll be able to maintain a healthy weight and improve your overall mobility. 


We offer in-home physical therapy in the Charlottesville and Richmond, VA areas.

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Stretch Regularly 

Stretching can also be a great way to increase your mobility. Here are some simple stretches you can do to increase your mobility:


Quadricep Stretch 

Your quadriceps are large muscles that allow you to do the activities you love, like hiking and biking. To stretch your quadriceps, grab your foot and gently pull it towards your rear until you feel a stretch in your side. If you need to, you can use your other hand to hold onto a chair for balance. 

Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds before switching sides. 


Hamstring Stretch 

Hamstrings also play a very important role in carrying out daily activities. To stretch your hamstrings, place the heel of your foot on a chair. Keep your elevated leg straight and bend forward until you start to feel a stretch on the back of your thigh. Hold for at least 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side. 

Again, if you need added stability, you can grab another chair to place your hand on. 

You can also lie on the floor to stretch your hamstring. For this stretch, lie on your back and lift one leg straight up in the air. Wrap your hands under the back of your knee, then gently pull your leg toward your body. Don’t worry about keeping your leg completely straight, as you can still get a good stretch by bending your knee. 


Ankle Flexion 

A lot of seniors deal with weak ankles, which is why it’s so important to do what you can to keep your ankles strong and mobile. 

One great stretch to do is the ankle flexion, in which you sit on a chair and reach one foot as far out as you can. Rest your heel on the floor, and then point the toe forward, and then back up to the ceiling. Keep doing this for about 30 seconds before switching sides. 


Lower-Back Rotation 

Your spine is the control center of your body, as well as the source of strength for many activities. To improve the mobility of your back, sit on a chair in an upright position with your feet flat on the floor. 

Then, twist your body so your shoulders rotate to the right side. Hold for 30 seconds, and then twist your body the other way so your shoulders rotate to the left. 

Before you engage in a stretching session, make sure your muscles are warmed up, otherwise, you risk pulling something. To warm up your muscles, you can go for a brisk walk or light jog. 


Do the Right Exercises/Range of Motion Activities for the Elderly 

In addition to stretching, certain exercises can also help you improve your mobility through balance and mobility therapy. Here are some of the best exercises you can do for mobility that capitalize on the benefits of movement training:


Single-Leg Stand 

A single-leg stand is a great way to improve both mobility and balance. To perform this exercise, all you need to do is stand on one leg with the other leg slightly bent. Try to hold this position for one minute, and hold onto a chair for balance if you need to. 


Chair Squats 

Squats are great for building strength throughout your legs. To perform a chair squat, sit on the edge of a chair with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your knees at a 90-degree angle, then stand up from this position. Then, slowly sit back down, keeping your back straight the whole time. 



The bridge exercise can help strengthen the back of your legs as well as your lower back. Lie on your back with your feet firmly planted on the ground and your hands at your side. Then, thrust your pelvis into the air and try to maintain this pose for 30 seconds. 



Plank exercises are great for strengthening your core. Lie face down and place your knees and elbows on the ground while keeping the rest of your body elevated. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute. 


Wall Push-Ups 

To perform a wall push-up, place your hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart against a wall. Then, bend at the elbows while keeping your back straight. Lower towards the wall until your nose almost touches it, then return to the start position. 


Invest in Mobility Devices 

In addition to following the above tips, you may also want to consider investing in a mobility device to make moving around easier. Some of the mobility devices you may want to look into include:

  • Canes
  • Scooters
  • Wheelchairs
  • Stairlifts
  • Crutches

You can talk to your doctor about which mobility device is right for you. 


Increase Mobility: Are You Ready to Improve Your Mobility? 

Now that you know these tips to increase mobility in the elderly, it’s time to put them into action. With these tips, your mobility should improve in no time. 

Also, be sure to check out this guide to learn about the best indoor activities for the elderly. 

And if you’re interested in working with a professional physical therapist in the comfort of your home, contact us today. At Commonwise Home Care, we have doctor’s-level physical therapists who can come to your home and walk you through exercises.

Disclaimer: Please check with your physician before making any changes to your diet, exercise, or medication routine.


We offer in-home physical therapy in the Charlottesville and Richmond, VA areas.

Learn More