Exercises for Bedridden Seniors [with Tips] (2023)

Today we are going to talk about exercises for bedridden seniors. If you or a loved one are bedridden due to an injury or disability, it is important to get some exercise as prolonged bed rest is detrimental to your health as you age.

There are many reasons why someone may be bedridden for an extended period of time. Common reasons include injuries such as a broken leg or pelvis, prolonged infections, stroke, diabetes, surgery, and various serious illnesses that affect your strength and ability to move on your own.

As we age, our body loses the ability to maintain strength and muscle mass. These two are critical to your ability to move and function independently. Essentially, your freedom depends on them and you should treat them with such importance.

When you're bedridden, the rate at which you lose strength and muscle mass increases exponentially. If you were frail before becoming bedridden, you may lose the ability to walk after as little as a week. When you lose the ability to move on your own feet, the fight against loss of strength becomes much more difficult.

Because of this, it is extremely important to take care of your strength and muscle mass before you become bedridden. That way you have more leftovers, so to speak, if you become bedridden.

The other important factor is to move around in bed as much as possible. There are many conditions that can prevent this entirely, but they are rare. For example, if you're bedridden with a broken hip, you can still tone most of your body with a few simple daily exercises.

It doesn't take much to keep your strength from flagging, complete rest is the most dangerous.

What are bed exercises?

The exercises that bedridden elderly people can do are called bed exercises. As the name suggests, these are exercises that you can do while lying down. Depending on your physical health limitations, you can exercise most of the muscles in your body.

(Video) Inpatient In-Bed Exercises

As always, talk to your doctor before attempting any of these exercises. And follow the recommendations of the healthcare professionals who care for you.

Most of these exercises involve moving one or more limbs and statically contracting muscles. The purpose of these exercises is not to build strength in the traditional way. The goal is simply to activate the nerves and muscle fibers in your muscles to signal your body not to start breaking down muscle mass for energy.

You see, since we're at complete rest for long periods of time, it gives our bodies the signal that the muscle mass we have isn't useful for survival and function and is starting to break down into protein.

The same can happen if you don't get enough protein in your diet, your body will take what it needs from your muscle tissue to repair other tissues. In addition to losing muscle mass, the nerves that control muscles lose signal strength when not in use.

Staying in bed isn't good for your muscles.

This is the exact opposite of building muscle mass and strength. This consists of lifting or moving increasingly difficult weights or resistance. This forces your body to believe it needs more muscle mass and strength to function. It does this by synthesizing muscle mass from protein and improving neural signaling.

Surprisingly, this increase in muscle mass makes our bodies and minds healthier in many ways. It's nature's way of rewarding us with movement, and from an evolutionary perspective, it shows that our bodies were designed for movement. We are healthy when we are active and we are sick and weak when we are sedentary.

So when you're bedridden, it's imperative that you do whatever it takes to activate your body to maintain as much strength and muscle mass as possible. With the permission and consideration of your doctor, of course!

Who are the bed exercises suitable for?

I want to clarify that these exercises in bed are intended exclusively for bedridden people. They are not enough to improve and maintain muscle mass and strength in healthy people.

(Video) Bed exercises for Aged Care patients

If you can walk short distances yourself, you'll benefit from even a short walk and a few moreUpper body strength exercises.

Exercises for Bedridden Seniors [with Tips] (1)

So don't try to avoid the actual workout by doing some of these exercises in bed at night thinking that's enough. Of course you can do them, but there are exercises that are much more beneficial to you. I have shown some in the articles.Free weight exercises for seniors,Lunges for seniors, miManual Weight Exercises For Seniors [With Tips].

If you are really bedridden, these exercises are for you. Your goal is simply to activate your muscles to prevent muscle wasting during prolonged periods of rest. Done correctly, they can at best save your own ability to walk and get around.

Exercises in bed to strengthen the legs

Leg strength is the most important factor for independent living. You lose it very quickly when you are bedridden. The risk of losing the ability to walk is very real. Therefore, it is important to do everything possible to maintain leg strength.

I've already talked about the importance of leg strength in the articlesBenefits of Strength Training for Seniors [Complete Guide],Leg Strength Exercises For Seniors [4 Simple Exercises],Ankle exercises for seniors.,Weak Legs in the Elderly (5 Minute Solution!). And many others that you can find in the top menu.

These exercises fromJill GilbertImprove your walking ability by strengthening your leg muscles. This includes different types of leg lifts performed on the back, side and abdomen. (YouTube embed. Non-ElderStrength.com Content):

(Video) Bed Exercises for Bedbound People - part 1: Lower Body

If you can't lift your legs or roll them freely, try electrostimulation muscle therapy. It might not generate any real power, but it's a lot better than nothing.

Basic exercises for bedridden elderly

Core strength is very important to your health and the functioning of your body. You will also lose core strength very quickly if you are bedridden. This is because the main function of the core is to support the upper body.

This very simple bed exercise fromtrain warriorsIt is effective for core strengthening even if you are not bedridden. Don't worry if you can't raise your legs very high with this exercise. Even if you're contracting your abs for multiple reps, trying to raise your legs or upper body will maintain strength much better than complete rest. (YouTube embed. Non-ElderStrength.com Content)

You can read more about the importance of basic education in the articlesCore Strength Exercises for Seniors [With Examples],The Best Ab Exercises For Seniors [3 Exercises With Tips], miAbdominal muscles for seniors.

Arm and upper body exercises for bedridden seniors

Like your legs and upper body, your upper body loses strength when you are bedridden. Upper body strength is not as critical as leg and core strength. But it is still very important to function independently.

These upper body exercisesJill GilbertThey're simple and easy to make, even in bed. They activate most of the muscles in the arms, shoulders and upper body and stimulate blood circulation. (YouTube embed. Non-ElderStrength.com Content):

(Video) In Bed Exercises to Aid with Walking

You can learn more about how to train your arms and core in these articles:

  • Best Arm Exercises For Seniors [With Tips]
  • Sagging Arm Exercises for Elderly [Simple and Effective]
  • Arm Exercises For Older Women [Easy Guide]
  • Back Strength Exercises For Seniors [With Tips]


I hope these exercises will be helpful for bedridden seniors. If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer them.

Even if you are bedridden, exercise is very important for your health. In fact, even more so than being able to move freely because you lose your normal daily activity.

Maintaining muscle mass and strength is critical to health and longevity. As well as his ability to move independently. So please don't take it seriously.

If you are seriously ill and cannot exercise. Also in bed because of tiredness and/or pain. Consider using an electrostimulation muscle therapy machine, which will help activate your muscles enough to significantly slow down the breakdown. Studies have shown that they are useful for this purpose, which is what they use them for in space.

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Until next time!


1. Level 1 Leg Exercises (Beginner)
(NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital)
2. FULL BODY IN-BED WORKOUT - For bedridden individuals
3. Leg Exercises On Your Bed
4. Exercises for bedridden patients
(Deccan Hardikar Hospital)
5. Strengthen Your Legs When You Can't Stand | Exercises for MS
(MS Workouts)
6. Strengthening Exercises For The Elderly (Part 2 of 2): Lower Limbs
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