Age Defying Moves to Keep You Active (Part 1 – Upper Extremities)

Physical therapy (PT) exercises you can do at home help your body retain youthful vigor. How? By improving posture, balance, flexibility and strength. The anti-aging moves below are quick and simple and require no equipment. For seated exercises, sit in a straight-backed chair, feet flat on floor and hip-width apart.

All exercises: To do a “set,” repeat each move three times, breathing slowly and deeply … relax momentarily between each repetition. Aim for two or three sets daily.

Improved Posture. Poor posture makes your spine curve and jut forward, causing back and neck pain and compression in the lungs. These moves correct head alignment and strengthen mid-back muscles.

Chin Tuck. Sit – without tilting head to the back or side, tuck chin slightly…draw head rearward until neck is elongated and in line with spine – hold for 15 seconds.

Isometric Elbow Press. Sit – bend elbows to a 90-degree angle so hands are in front of you, held in relaxed fists. Keeping your back against the chair back, press elbows backward against the chair back, using the pressure to help straighten spine – hold for 15 seconds.

Better Balance. Avoiding falls requires keeping your balance while moving.

Tandem Walk. Stand straight, abdominal muscles (“abs”) tight, head aligned with spine. Stepping forward, place right foot in front of left foot, so right heel touches left toes (as if on a tightrope). Walk this way for 15 feet. Start slowly, increase your pace gradually as balance improves.

Greater Flexibility. Being flexible helps prevent muscle and joint injuries. For these moves, sit with hips six to 10 inches from the chair back.

Behind-the-Back Shoulder Stretch. Reach left hand over your shoulder palm facing your back – bring right hand up behind your back, palm facing away from you. Gently move left hand down and right hand up for 30 seconds, trying to get tips of third fingers of each hand to touch.

Switch hand positions and repeat.

Sit-and-Reach. Straighten right knee and place right heel on floor, toes pointed toward ceiling. With one hand on top of the other, lean forward, trying to touch toes of right foot – hold 30 seconds. Switch to left leg. (If you have low bone density or a history of spine fractures, skip this exercise.)

Increased Strength. The stronger you are, the easier it is to do just about anything.

Plank Position. Get down on all fours, hands flat on floor and directly below shoulders. Tightening abs and keeping head aligned with spine, extend one leg and then the other until toes are curled under and on the floor in “push-up” position. Hold position, with body perfectly straight for 15 seconds (do not lower yourself into a push up) – return to hands and knees.

*Check with a health-care professional before beginning any new exercise routine.

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