Senior couple doing stretches from bed

Top 5 Gentle Bed Exercises For Elderly Folks

Get a good stretch from your own bed & feel all the benefits that come along with it!

If the thought of getting down on the floor has you avoiding exercise all together, you’re far from alone. But the good news is that it doesn’t mean you should give up on a healthy lifestyle. In fact, not only can you exercise without getting down on the floor, but you don’t even have to get out of bed! Here’s some of the best bed exercises for elderly people who want to stay fit—without the floorwork.

Understanding Muscle Loss In Your Golden Years

One thing most people need to watch out for is muscle loss as we age. That muscle loss starts as early as thirty years old, so anything you can do to minimise its impact at any age is for the best. In our senior years, our strength directly impacts our level of independence. But that doesn’t mean those with limited mobility and range of motion can’t do anything to overcome strength, flexibility, and balance issues. There are countless benefits to exercising in bed.

The process of losing muscle as we age, and from sedentary living, is called Deconditioning. Bed exercises may not be intense enough to completely overcome Deconditioning, but they are a great way to help minimise the effect without changing your life entirely. After all, the best benefit to bed exercises is you can stay comfortable and relaxed while doing them!

Bed Exercises Are The Low Impact Way To Get Great Results

One of the best benefits to exercising in bed is the same benefit to all exercise—you get stronger. That strength is crucial to maintaining your independence and allowing you to move through the world like you want to. Another positive of exercising in bed is the low impact to the rest of your body, allowing you to focus on specific areas without tiring or straining other parts of your body. Plus, you can feel more confident exercising from your bed as balance won’t be as big of a factor. If balance is a concern, find exercises to improve your balance here.

Depending on what time of day you do your exercises there are even more benefits to when you go to sleep or how you wake up. Stretching and exercising before bed can help loosen achy joints and muscles, and works off extra energy making it easier to get to sleep and stay asleep. Waking up with a good stretch routine is a great way to help get your energy levels up and avoid the aches and pains that slow down your day.

Top 5 Bed Exercises For Elderly People

Bed exercises for the elderly are designed to get you active, increase your range of motion and improve strength—while keeping the impact low. No matter the time of day, it’s best to find a routine that you can stick with and help with areas that you struggle with. Here are some of the best bed exercises for all fitness levels. You’ll need your bed or yoga mat, a pillow or yoga bolster block. For other low impact exercises for seniors with limited mobility–follow this link.

*Note: Each exercise is demonstrated from the floor in the photos below, but are all designed to be completed right from bed!

1. One Leg Lean

  • Sit up in bed without any obstructions around you. 
  • Stick one leg out straight with your toes pointing up. Your knee should be straight up as well. 
  • Gently lean forward, keeping your back straight. 
  • Lean toward your knee until the tension in your back is high but tolerable. 
  • Hold for 5-10 seconds. 
  • Place your arms or hands on the bed (or floor) to help push you back up as you return to a sitting position. 
  • Continue for 5 repetitions, then switch legs and repeat.

2. Lean Back

  • Sit up with a straight back. 
  • Bring the soles of your feet together—it’s ok if there is space between your feet but try to get as close together as possible.
  • Place your hands on the ground behind you.
  • Start leaning back, hinging at your hips and keep the soles of your feet together. 
  • Continue leaning back until laying flat on your back. Stop before reaching the bed (or ground) if you feel unstable. 
  • Hold for 10-15 seconds.
  • Rise back up by propping yourself up on your elbows and “walk” yourself back up to a sitting position using your arms.

3. Turtling

  • Lay flat on your back.
  • Bring your knees up to your chest.
  • Extend your arms out in a T position. 
  • Rotate at the hips to bring both knees down to the left or right. Hold for 10 seconds. 
  • Rotate your hips and knees back to the other side.
  • Repeat for 5 reps. Make sure to take big breaths as you rotate.

4. Cat-Cow

  • Get on your hands and knees 
  • Arch your back down while looking up and extending your neck. 
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Start arching your back upward, keeping your abdomen tight, and bring your head & neck downward. 
  • Hold for 5 seconds and return to the first position. 
  • Repeat for 5 reps.

5. Shoulder Lean

  • Lay flat on your stomach with your elbows propping you up. 
  • Your legs should be straight out behind you. 
  • Keep your shoulders straight and tight.
  • Rotate your shoulders left and right. 
  • Repeat 5 times.

Whether you find it hard to take on traditional exercise routines or you just want a gentle way to easily get more active, a good exercise and stretching routine you can do from the comfort of your own bed may be the routine you need. Bed exercises for the elderly are low impact and don’t need any extra equipment—all while helping you maintain your strength and independence. 

If you’re a morning person, you’ll want to check the Good Morning! Bed Stretching Program Class.

For night owls, check out the Good Night! Bed Stretching Program Class—here.