Better Balance Challenge: 10-Minute Essential Stretch Routine for Better Balance

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

Flexible muscles and mobile joints help prevent slips, trips, and falls. Stay loose — and upright — with this soothing sequence.

Keep up with the 7-Day Better Balance Challenge here!

When you think about balance, you may not think about flexibility. But if your muscles are tight and your joints are stiff, it restricts your body’s range of motion.

“When you’re tight and don’t have good range of motion, it affects how you move through the world,” explains Andi Kwapien, a SilverSneakers master trainer. “You’re more likely to slip or trip and not be able to catch yourself before you fall.

“Having good flexibility and joint mobility helps with good posture and balance,” she adds.

That’s what makes stretching more important than ever!

Balance training is part of SilverSneakers group fitness classes! Check your eligibility here and find participating fitness locations near you here.

The Benefits of Staying Loose

Regular gentle stretching, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), has been shown to:

  • Improve flexibility and range of motion
  • Increase circulation and blood flow
  • Reduce arthritis and other joint pain
  • Reduce pain

It’s even tied to improving mood: Just consider how much better you feel after a good stretch, a SilverSneakers yoga session, or an EnerChi class.

The 2021 ACSM guidelines recommend a stretching routine that targets the major muscle groups (such as in this video) a minimum of 2 to 3 times per week. A daily routine delivers the most benefits for older adults.

How to Use the 10-Minute Essential Stretch Routine for Better Balance

This sequence targets muscle groups essential to balance that get tighter with each passing year:

  • Neck and chest stretches release tension and help reset good posture, so your center of gravity stays over your feet.
  • Dynamic hamstring movements improve range of motion in the stabilizing muscles of your upper legs.
  • Hip openers improve mobility in the hip joint, which studies show declines after age 55, and reduces hip tightness.
  • Flexing and pointing the ankle keeps the joint mobile, allowing you to pick up your feet instead of tripping over them.

You can perform many of these stretches while seated.

Breathe into each stretch, move gently, and listen to your body. A little mild discomfort is okay; pain is not — resist pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. ACSM guidelines suggest holding each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds to increase your flexibility.

If you can’t stretch as far as Andi does in the video, don’t worry. Your flexibility will improve with practice.

The best time to stretch? “Whenever you can,” says Andi.

Stretching in the morning helps wake up your body for daily activities. (Remember to take it easy on cold muscles. March in place or walk around the house for a few minutes first.) Stretching before bed releases tension, helps you relax, and improves sleep quality. Ahhh!

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As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than your regular SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

Ready to feel good and loose? Just press play and follow Andi’s lead!

Bonus Challenge: Try a SilverSneakers Yoga Class

In this beginner-friendly workout, you’ll move through seated and standing yoga poses to improve flexibility, balance, and range of motion. Shoes are encouraged! It’s offered both in-person at participating fitness locations and online with SilverSneakers LIVE.

Keep up with the 7-Day Better Balance Challenge here!

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