9 Easy Bed Exercises for the Elderly (and few to avoid!)

9 easy bed excercises

Everyday exercise has many advantages for all ages, including a healthy heart, stronger bones, and enhanced flexibility, and mental health benefits.

Many seniors who are bed-bound, whether from an injury, illness, or surgery, have a high risk of losing strength and body muscle mass. 

Additionally, their muscles also shorten and tighten when they are bed-bound resulting in muscle cramps and pain. Research[1] states that elderly people should exercise to challenge their body systems to improve physiological parameters.

Bed exercises for the elderly may also lessen many complications that can be caused by restricted movements. Additionally, choosing the proper bed also matters.

The best bed option for seniors to avoid traditional mattresses is to choose an adjustable bed. There are huge benefits of adjustable beds which are mostly used to improve health and sleeping conditions.

Whether your loved one is on the bed because of any situation that makes it challenging to get out of bed, few exercises for seniors can help improve their strength and blood circulation. Make sure you consult with your elder’s physician first.

There are many various platforms where you can obtain descriptions of exercises like, online physical therapy programs, physical therapists, internists, etc that can be accommodated and utilized for your elder.

Many people face trouble in starting an activity program either for themselves or for other people however, it can be effortless to list a few of the particular activities for our seniors.

Here are a few bed mobility exercises for everyday strength listed below that can be done as a daily routine, which will make getting out of bed a lot easier.

6 bed exercises for elderly

The best thing you can do every day is to make your loved one practice getting up and down from the bed. The best way to effortlessly get out of bed is to roll onto their side.

Move the legs to the edge of the bed, and use the arms to push the upper body into a sitting position. This technique will allow gravity and momentum to bring the legs down and help move the upper body up.

Make sure they sit for a few minutes and tap their feet to let the blood pressure return to normal.

Stretching Exercises for seniors in Bed

Hand and palm stretches


Many elders like to read books or keep themselves engaged in their favorite hobbies. This requires maintaining the functionality of their hands. 

Ask your elderly loved one to stretch each hand out as far as possible, then make a fist and squeeze the fingers tightly into their palms. The exercises for hands and palms can help the bedridden elderly to keep their fingers and hands muscles to limber. 

Hand and palm exercises can also prevent stiffness and immense pain. This exercise can help them to eat their meal without any help or operate buttons, remote switches, and phones.

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Shoulder Flexion and Side rolls

Many bedridden elderly go through stiffness in the neck and back muscles.

Ask your elderly one to slowly move their body from one side to another.

Shoulder shrugs and side rolls can help them ease the pain from the shoulder, back, and neck muscles.

Additionally, pressure ulcers and bedsores can be healed by side rolls.

Repeat the exercise during the day to keep your health intact and avoid skin irritation. This bed exercise for the elderly is best for upper body workout and will help them to move their head or shoulders without pain.

Arms reflexing

Many Seniors face restlessness due to the non-movement of muscles which means being in the restricted areas for longer periods.

Simply uplifting the arms for about 10 secs can increase the blood circulation, arm, and shoulder strength.

Another exercise that can help is to put the upper arm on the mattress and lift the elbow. This procedure will help you’re bedridden elderly to prevent cramps.

Arms Lifts can also be performed with a caregiver. Performing this exercise can help them to maintain the strength to hold or move light objects.

Lower body  Exercises for Bedridden Obese Older adults

Lower body exercises not only help your loved ones in preserving their independence but also improves overall health as they age.

Lower body exercise is highly effective and enjoyable.


This will help in strengthening their buttock muscles which is an essential part when they have to turn over in bed.

Ask your elder to lie on their back, with both knees facing upwards (bend).

Bridge Exercise

Lift the buttocks and hold the position for 3 sec, slowly lower the bottom down. Ask them to repeat this exercise 7-8 times daily.

This bed exercise for the elderly can also be done with help from a caretaker.


When people start to age, the blood pressure works slower and takes time to adjust when you shift positions from sleeping to sitting making you feel dizzy.

This can be solved! Ask your elderly one to pump their feet up and down for 10 sec before they get down from their bed.

This can help the blood to return to the heart and lessen the feeling of dizziness.

Core Workout

Working on the core part of the body protects the back and keeps the back stable while turning in bed or getting up from the bed.

Ask your bedridden elderly to bend both their knees.

Ask them to bring their lower stomach below the belly button gently. Holding this position, ask them to lift one leg in an upwards direction and then lower it down. Repeat the same with the other side.

This procedure can be done 7-8 times for each leg.

leg lift

Straight Leg Raise Exercise

Performing some bed exercises for the legs can improve your blood circulation and pressure sores. It also works on the core muscles of the body including the lower back.

Ask your loved one to bend the other knee and lift one leg to reduce the exertion on the abdominal part. Let them hold this position for 10 secs.

Implementing this bed exercise for the elderly will give them more independence in sitting up and moving around in bed. Make sure you ask for some assistance when your elderly one is injured or just back from surgery.

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Ask your loved one to rest on their back and point the right foot meanwhile flexing the left foot at the same time.

Alternate this slowly and flex your toes to sense the stretch on legs and calf muscles.


This exercise will help your’s bedridden elderly to strengthen their leg and hip muscles. Ask your senior to rest on their back with flexed feet and less than shoulder-width apart.

Ask them to place their hand under their buttocks for support and stability. Lift the legs to make a Y shape and ask them to hold this position for 2 to 3 sec and then bring them down slowly.

 Repeating this will help lower back pain.

Feet and ankles flexing
(Ankle Plantarflexion-Dorsiflexion Exercise)


Image source:- orthoinfo.aaos.org

This exercise will help the range of motion and increase blood circulation in the ankles and feet.

Seek help from a caregiver, ask them to hold one ankle and heel, and start bending the foot forwards for several seconds and then push upwards.

Ask them to repeat this same procedure with each foot. This exercise can be very beneficial for the bedridden elderly with diabetes that often involves some level of foot pain.

No matter whether your loved one is temporarily bed-bound or due to severe illness, they could use additional support with exercises, cooking, cleaning, and personal grooming.

However, there are few exercises they should avoid in their physical routine. Not all sorts of physical exercise are beneficial for aging people.

Bed exercises for Everyday Strength

Hamstring Sets

Hamstring Sets - PensionsWeek.com

Image Source:- www2.nau.edu

It is a Leg strengthening exercise for the elderly. To perform this exercise you have to lay back on your back so that you can be in a comfortable position and then you have to lift one leg and bend it to form an “A” shape while the other leg remains flat.

Now all you have to do is press your ankle of the bent leg into the mattress. This will help your leg muscles to become strong. Hold the position for 5 seconds and then relax. Follow the same process with the other leg.

Posterior Pelvic Tilt

Posterior Pelvic Tilt

Image Source: – ClipartKey

This is one of the easiest exercises that you can perform while laying on the bed. It is also considered as the core strengthening exercise. To perform this, you have to lay down on your back with your legs bent or flat.

Now all you have to do is apply a little bit on your stomach so that the spine becomes flat to the surface. This will help to increase sitting position and reduce back pain in the elderly. Hold the position for 5 seconds and then relax.

Glute Set

Glute Set

Image Source:- fairview.org

Another very easy and effective core strengthening exercise. To do this exercise you just have to keep your feet flat on the mattress and then you have to tighten your buttocks muscles. This will relax the muscles that gradually help in the improvement of your walking.

Few Exercises Seniors Should Totally Avoid


Maintaining a good core or abdominal muscles is very important to protect the spine. Sit-ups require forward bending which can give a serious amount of stress to the lower back and spine.

Opting out better options like standing crunches or side-bends can help these muscles get better.


Older People who are jogging for a long time can keep up their running if there is no joint distress.

However, switching to walking at a brisk speed is a good alternative exercise for seniors to improve balance and mental health.

Feet Touching

Many stretches can cause more harm. Bending to touch the feet while keeping the legs straight can cause immense stress on the lower back.

Make sure your loved one skips this exercise and also avoid bounces while stretching.

Ask them to slowly relax into stretching positions while breathing deeply. 

Additionally, the following exercises seniors should avoid if they are over the age of 65:

  • Squats with dumbbells or weights

  • Lunges

  • Yoga

  • Weight lifting/ Dead-lift

  • Crunches

Benefits of Bed Exercises for Elderly

If the elderly are having a hard time getting up from the bed, then be alert this might be the increased risk of physical deconditioning. It affects their body more quickly than you think, and they can experience 1%-3% of loss of muscle strength per day!

This can happen due to several reasons. Also, bed-ridden elders are at a high risk of pressure sores, poor blood circulation, bone density deduction, severe pain, reduced joint range of motion, depression, and incontinence.

However, exercises done on best adjustable beds can prevent them keep their mobility and strength at balance to their age, but it’s not a cure. Bed exercises are very simple and effective for inactive seniors to take action and do some care physical exercise program.

People Also Ask

Our muscles are meant to move and if the elderly are unable to move their body while being on the bed can be a problem. Their body may suffer from disuse atrophy or lose muscle strength. This is why mobility is important.

  • Hand and palm stretches
  • Ankle Plantarflexion-Dorsiflexion Exercise
  • Side Leg Shift
  • Flex and Point
  • Leg Lift
  • Bridging
  • Calf Re-flexing
  • Core Workout

There are several causes of weak legs in the elderly. Here is a list below:

1. Vitamin D deficiency which causes muscle weakness.

2. Muscel Inactivity.

3. Heart Disease

4. Diabetes

5. Neurological Disorder

There are various exercises that you can let your elderly perform so that they can improve their leg strength and mobility:

1. Ankle Plantarflexion-Dorsiflexion Exercise.

2. Ankle Circles.

3. Squats (for age below 65)

4. Hip Exercises

5. Leg Raises

6. Calf Exercises and more.

  • Hand and palm stretches
  • Ankle Plantarflexion-Dorsiflexion Exercise
  • Side Leg Shift
  • Flex and Point
  • Leg Lift
  • Bridging
  • Calf Re-flexing
  • Core Workout

How Often Should I exercise?

Keep on doing these exercises every 1 hour during your stay at the hospital or until you are recovered and stand on your feet. 

Make it a habit to perform these exercises regularly. 


About PensionsWeek

Pensions week focuses on sound retirement strategies making aging easier for the seniors. Here you will find resources from senior housing and safety to money, health, investment, and care, etc that may help you gain clarity around your retirement.


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