Maintaining good posture is vital for people of all ages. And can also support a higher quality of life for older adults in retirement.
Poor posture can lead to back pain, reduced flexibility, and decreased balance. But posture exercises for older adults with slow, controlled movements can help prevent posture and balance problems. On-site health and wellness services and amenities in senior living communities can help older adults maintain or improve their posture.
Why Posture Changes with Age
Three systems can affect your posture as you age—these include the vertebrae in your spine, the disks between your vertebrae, and your muscles. And as the years go by, here are ways posture can change with age:
- Bone loss can cause weakened bones, loss of density, and shrinkage.
- Disk shrinkage can cause the bones in your spine to move closer.
- Muscle loss can affect your spine and torso.
Why Is Posture Important?
As we age, our body undergoes various changes, such as loss of muscle mass and flexibility, which can affect posture. Proper posture is important for the following reasons:
- To keep your bones and joints in alignment
- To help maintain the spine’s natural curves
- For balance, stand up straight and center your weight
- Help you maintain correct form while exercising
- Improve breathing
Good posture is important for seniors for several reasons. Good posture can:
- Decrease the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces
- Reduce stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together
- Allow your muscles to work more efficiently
- Help prevent muscle strain
- Help prevent back and muscular pain
What Does Good Posture Look Like?
Here is what good posture should look like if you’re standing or sitting:
- The chin is parallel to the floor
- Shoulders are even (you can roll your shoulders up, back, and down to achieve this)
- A neutral spine
- Arms are at your sides with elbows straight and even
- Abdominal muscles braced
- Even hips
- Even knees, pointing straight ahead
- Evenly distributed body weight on both feet
- When sitting, the chin is parallel to the floor, shoulders, hips, and knees at even heights and pointing straight
Posture Exercises for Seniors
Maintaining good posture through posture exercises can help seniors stay healthy, active, and independent for longer. Whether you’re sitting, standing, or moving around, there are simple exercises you can do to improve your posture and feel better.
The following strengthening exercises focus on your shoulders and your core and can include:
- Chest opener: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and interlock your hands behind your back. Hold for 20 seconds to stretch your chest and pectoral muscles.
- Stretch your neck muscles: With your head and neck in a neutral position, facing forward, turn your head slowly from side to side to stretch your neck muscles.
- Neck and chest stretch: In a seated position, place your hands at the base of your skull with intertwined fingers. Turn your face towards the ceiling, move your left elbow toward the ground and the right elbow up, and repeat on the other side.
- Shoulder pull back: Lift both forearms to a 90-degree angle and pull your shoulder blades closer together, like you’re squeezing them and your arms naturally extend backward. You can do this in a seated or standing position with a neutral spine.
- Overhead arm raises: Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground and weight evenly distributed in both hips. With your arms comfortably to your sides, engage your core while raising your arms over your head and bring them back down. You can also do this standing while ensuring you don’t lock your knees.
- Standing cat-cow: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, with slightly bent knees. Place your hands on your thighs, lengthen your neck, and bring your chin toward your chest while rounding your spine. To come back, look up and lift your chest.
- Backbend: In a seated position, put your hands on your lower back with fingers facing down and thumbs towards your front body. Gently arch your spine, leading with your head. Slowly come back to a neutral position.
Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any exercise regime. Remember, posture exercises are meant to give you a good stretch and aren’t supposed to be painful.
Maintain a Higher Quality of Life
Exercise doesn’t have to be daunting or difficult. Simple everyday exercises can improve your posture, mobility, and overall health.