Gentle Exercises for Limited Mobility - Stay Active and Improve Flexibility

A Chronic Health Wisdom Blog
August 18, 2023 by
Cheri Sacks RN, CDCES

Maintaining an active lifestyle is important for health and well-being, even if you have limited mobility. The key is choosing appropriate exercises that are safe, doable, and provide benefits within your ability. Here are some examples of beneficial yet gentle activities.

Seated Stretches for Joint Mobility

seated stretches are great.

From a stable seated position, do movements like knee extensions, calf raises, torso twists, shoulder rolls, and overhead reaches. These can improve flexibility in major joints like hips, knees, back, shoulders, and more. Stretch gently only until you feel slight tension.

Low-Impact Cardio for Circulation

Marching in place while seated gives a gentle cardio workout to get your blood pumping. Raise knees as high as comfortably possible. This maintains mobility in hip joints too. Start slow and increase pace cautiously as you're able.

Muscle Activation Exercises

Try squeezing a stress ball or other soft object to work on hand and wrist strength. Opening and closing hips while seated helps activate stabilizer muscles as well. Calf raises work lower legs. Move joints through the range of motion you can manage.

Here Are Some Exercises To Get Started With

Seated Knee Extensions:

Sit upright in a chair with your back supported. Keep your feet flat on the floor.

Lift one leg and fully straighten your knee, pointing your toes.

Hold for 2-3 seconds. Slowly lower back down.

Repeat 10 times on each leg.

Seated Torso Twists:

Sit tall with feet flat.

Place one hand on the back of your chair for support.

Extend your other arm straight out to the side.

Slowly rotate your torso to twist toward the extended arm. Twist only as far as feels comfortable.

Hold for 2-3 seconds. Rotate back to center.

Repeat 5 times on each side.

Seated Overhead Reach:

Sit upright with your feet on the floor.

Inhale and reach both arms up overhead.

Exhale and stretch your arms higher, lengthening your torso slightly.

Hold for 10-15 seconds.

Release arms back down slowly.

Repeat 2-3 times.

Seated Marching:

Sit tall on the edge of your chair so knees can lift higher.

March in place by lifting your knees one at a time, as high as you comfortably can.

Start slowly for 30 seconds. Gradually increase time as you're able.

Keep breathing steady.

Hand Squeezes:

Hold a soft stress ball or squishy object in one hand.

Squeeze tightly 5 times, taking 2-3 seconds each squeeze.

Relax hand and repeat with other hand.

Do 2-3 sets of 5 squeezes per hand.

Seek A Licensed Professional

Check with your healthcare provider before doing any new exercises, especially if you have an injury, chronic condition, or mobility restrictions. They can advise on safe activities tailored to your unique needs and abilities. Start very slowly and focus on proper form. 

Staying active, even in a limited capacity, promotes strength, flexibility, mood, and overall well-being. With modifications, many exercises can be done seated or within a small range of motion. Work at your own pace to safely improve mobility and feel your best every day. 

Contact Chronic Health Wisdom For Advice

Cheri Sacks RN, CDCES August 18, 2023
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