If you want to stay supple and retain the elasticity of your upper body muscles as you get older, then some simple stretching exercises can be greatly beneficial. Upper body stretches can help you maintain and even improve the range of motion across your torso, shoulders, arms and hands so that you can continue to fulfill your daily tasks and maintain your quality of life.
Many of the stretches described in this article and demonstrated by helpful videos are really simple to complete and suitable for pretty much everybody. Just pick the ones that would most benefit you and add them to your weekly fitness routine!
What are the benefits of upper body exercises?
Upper body strengthening exercises can be extremely useful for overall health and well-being as you age. There are a range of exercises that work different muscles to help protect your ability to perform key tasks and allow you to:
Strengthen the muscles responsible for reaching.
Maintain your ability to complete lifting and pushing motions without associated pain or weakness.
Lift your arms above your head, supporting everyday tasks like undressing and hair grooming.
Ward off daily aches and pains in the shoulders, neck and arms.
Maintain a full range of hand motion for tactile tasks involving buttons, zippers and laces.
Support overall strengthening throughout your trunk to help you retain movement in your back and neck.
Avoid and treat the onset of arthritis.
You don't need to run through a vigorous daily fitness routine to preserve your upper body strength. Just add a few of these short and easy exercises to your weekly routine and build from there.
1. Shoulder Rolls
Supports your ability to retain motion in your shoulders.
Helps maintain the muscles responsible for actions like reaching for a high shelf, removing upper body clothing or stretching across a table at dinner.
Associated strengthening of the upper back region and rib muscles.
Take up a comfortable position in a supportive chair (not soft upholstery).
Carefully raise your shoulders up, back, then down in a circular motion. Inhale as you raise them, exhale as you return them downwards.
Exercise both shoulders at the same time and repeat 10 times before relaxing.
Keep your body straight so that your ribs are raised throughout.
Try to stop your elbows from slouching while you complete the circles. Keep them nice and raised.
A good trick you can use to make sure you run through the exercise fully is to pretend that you have a pencil on the end of each elbow and you are drawing an imaginary circle on the wall ahead of your eye line.
If you are feeling confident, try running through the exercise while standing up.
9. Triceps Stretch
Improves flexibility of muscles and tendons used for a number of functional activities.
Loosens motion so that a full range of movement can be retained in the arms and shoulders.
Improves your ability to reach across the body, twist and turn.
Take a seat in a comfortable but supportive chair.
Raise your left hand up and across on to your right shoulder.
Use your right hand to provide some support for the elbow and very gently pull it towards your right shoulder.
When you feel resistance, pause and hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds.
Repeat for the other shoulder and complete 10 repetitions for each.
Breathe normally throughout - in through the nose and out through the mouth.