17 Easy Exercises to Stay Active While Bedridden

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Have you had to take care of a bedridden patient in your life? Perhaps you are taking care of one right now. Bedridden does not necessarily mean a permanent condition. Majority of the surgeries require patients to rest and stay in bed for a while. It can be for a day, two days, a couple of weeks and sometimes months. It can be longer for patients who experienced serious injuries, such as brain trauma or spinal injury. In all cases, there are many things you should take care of. You must have heard that bedridden patients must change sides every two hours. Hygiene and exercise are very important for them, so they can build strength and recover faster. Here are 17 exercises to stay active while bedridden that will help getting back up on your feet quicker and easier. These exercises are helpful for elderly people as well.

Exercise for Bedridden Patients

What is exercise? Is it weight-lifting? Building muscles? Going to the gym? Working out till your muscles are sore? Exercise is any activity which enhances and maintains physical fitness and health. For a healthy individual like yourselves, all daily chores are exercises. Walking, climbing stairs, picking up your own stuff, reaching for an object at a distance or height, doing the dishes, changing clothes- These automatically includes joint and muscle movement.

For elderly people and bedridden patients, daily chores for them are restricted. They cannot do what they did daily. Muscle inactivity for a long time can cause complications. It can hinder in recovery and progress. Blood clots can also form in inactive patients. Light exercise also prevents the formation of bedsores. There are very simple exercises to keep patients’ muscles healthy and active when bedridden. Active body, active mind. Healthy body, healthy mind. Start slow, and do five repetitions of each exercise. You can increase the number of repetitions every next day.

Related: Diet Recommendations for all 5 Age Groups from Infants to Elderly

Exercises for Neck

  • Head Turns

You can do this exercise while lying down as well as sitting up. Turn your head slowly from one extreme to the other. Take the head to an extreme until you feel slight stretch and tension. Do this five times a day. Increase the number of repetitions after a few days.

  • Head Rotation

You can do this while sitting up. Tilt your head on one side and then rotate your head 360 degrees slowly. Repeat it five times from one side. Then rotate your head in the reverse direction.

Exercises for Hands, Arms and Shoulders:

  • Palm Stretches

Palm stretches are one of the most basic exercises a bedridden patient can do. Open your palm. Extend your fingers as much as you can for a few seconds until you feel a stretch. Touch your thumb with each finger separately. Repeat it for the other hand.

  • Shrugging Shoulders

We shrug our shoulders every day. Shrugging is a very good exercise for bedridden patients. They should do it while sitting up. Shrug your shoulders, so that they reach up to the level of the back of your head. Do it five to ten times every day.

  • Arm Raises (Forward and Lateral)

This is a simple exercise. As mentioned at AdvancedTissue, raise your right arm as high as you can above your head. After doing this for five times, do it with your left arm.

Raise your arm again straight out in front of you. Change your arm after five times. These are forward arm raises. When you raise your arm straight out to the side, these are lateral arm raises. You can do it one by one for each arm. If you want, you can do it for both arms at the same time.

Shrugging shoulders and arm raises are great for developing muscle strength for changing clothes, combing, etc.

  • Bicep Curls

You can do bicep curls while lying down or sitting up. Without moving your elbow, bend it as if you are trying to touch your shoulder using your hand. Do it five times for each arm.

  • Arm Crosses

Move your arms on your sides till you feel a slight stretch. Then move your arms towards each other, so they pass over each other in a cross. Arm crosses are great exercises for reaching over for things from your table or sides.

  • Wrist Rotation

Wrist rotation is another one of many simple and easy exercises. Stretch out your hands in front of you and rotate your wrists. Then change the direction of rotation.

  • Arm Pushes

Place your arms near you with extended palms facing outward. Then push as if you are really pushing something away from you.

  • Finger Bends and Spreads

Finger bends are simply curling your fingers into a fist. Extend and straighten your fingers again. Extend the first finger and thumb apart, and then touch them with each other. These are finger spreads.

Exercises for Legs and Ankles:

  • Leg Rotation

You can do this while lying down. Lie straight and raise one of your legs. Ask your caretaker to raise it as high as possible for you. Then roll on your left side. Rollback straight after a few seconds. Then roll on your right side. Do this for both legs.

  • Leg Movement

You can do this while sitting up and lying down. Keep one of your legs still. Move the other leg outward, away from the first leg. Then bring it back again. Repeat it for the same leg for a couple of times. Do the same for the other leg.

Exercises for Feet and Toes:

  • Toe Bends

When you are lying down, point and flex your toes. Stretch them outwards and then towards yourself. You can also ask your caretaker to do this for you.

  • Ankle Rotation

Extend your legs. You can be sitting or lying on your back for this one. Raise your leg slightly off the surface. Then rotate your ankles clockwise and anticlockwise, five times each. You can do it for both ankles at the same time or separately. It is up to you.

  • Ankle Bends

You can do this while sitting as well as lying on your back. Bend your foot so your toes point towards the ceiling and then backwards. You can also do this while having your leg raised.

Exercises for the Entire Body:

  • Side Rolls

Rolling is a perfect exercise for all muscles of the body. Slowly rolling on your sides is easy and effective. Doing this for few times a day will improve fitness.

  • Hip Raises

Hip raises are a little difficult, but not impossible for patients. Try lying on your back and raising your hips slightly from the bed. Keep them in the air for a few seconds before bringing them back down.

Anyone can do these exercises. You do not need to be a professional either to do these with your elders. Even if you are on bed rest for a couple of days, it does not mean that you can skip these too. If you continue these 17 easy exercises, it will be easier for you to get back on your feet.


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Hadiqa Inam
Future Biochemist. Ailurophile. Writer. Poet. Graphic Designer. Volunteer. Dreamer... And Marvel movies! Creativity is intelligence having fun

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