My teacher Gina Caputo will often approach her yoga classes with a comical question; she jokingly asks “Is anybody aging in this room?” Almost reluctantly, and unsurprisingly, all the hands go up! What a sublime and subtle inquiry into introducing key mobility exercises to optimize agility as we all, gracefully, age.
While countless consumer brands, advertisers and media outlets all want us to believe that we can tap into the fountain of youth forever, the hard truth is that we’re all aging. Fortunately, we can stay agile as we age, as all wellness warriors can attest, there is power in prevention.
And yep, you guessed it, there are exercises that help with agility. In this article we’ll explore what exactly is agility (and why it’s important!) and we’ll share a sequence of mobility exercises to help you optimize agility as you age.
Ready for Yoga Agility? Check Out This High-Energy Yoga Flow With Mobility Exercises
With Katie Kasten
Yoga Agility is the perfect class when you want a quick and sweaty yoga workout set to fun, upbeat music to get your heart pumping and your body moving. This athletic, high-energy yoga flow from YA Classes is designed to help you build more athleticism in your body.
Agility vs. Mobility: Terms Defined
Agility is our body’s ability to stay mobile and move quickly and easily through space. Mobility is a relatively new buzz word in the fitness world and rightly so! Mobility is vital to the function of your body’s muscles, joints and bones over time.
Ultimately, it’s less about what you do with your body to stay mobile and more about how you can stay mobile over time.
Imagine yourself as an elderly person. Now picture yourself doing something that might seem trivial today. Examples may include reaching for something on the top shelf, picking up a heavy box, squatting down to pet a four-legged friend, turning around quickly, or sitting down and getting up off of the toilet.
No matter what you imagine yourself doing in your elderly years, I imagine you’ll want to stay as mobile as possible. For as long as humanly possible.
Ready to get moving? Try out the following twelve mobility exercises to optimize agility as you gracefully age.
Try These 12 Mobility Exercises for Increased Agility
1. Shoulder Shrugs
Begin in a standing position with feet hips-width distance apart. Roll both of your shoulders forward, up, back and down in a circular motion. Repeat this exercise several times before repeating in the opposite direction. For a variation, try this exercise with one shoulder at a time.
Benefit: This mobility exercise improves range of motion in the shoulder girdle.
2. Head Circles
From a standing or seated position, lower your chin to your chest and roll your head to one shoulder. Move from one shoulder to the other shoulder with your breath before attempting the full head circle in one direction. Repeat a few times before repeating in the opposite direction.
Benefit: This mobility exercise improves range of motion in the neck and shoulders.
3. Side Bends
Start in a standing position with your feet hips-width distance apart. Lift one arm overhead and reach towards the opposite side of the room. Repeat this same action on the opposite side.
Benefit: This exercise improves spinal extension and increases energy throughout the body.
4. Heel Lifts
Stand with feet hips-width distance apart. Slowly lift both heels off of the floor at the same time, stretching the arches of your feet, and gently lower the heels back down. Repeat this action several times and try to balance for as long as you can.
Benefit: This exercise improves balance and increases mobility in the arches of the feet.
5. Hip Circles
Come to standing with feet wide apart. Place your hands on your hips and begin to circle your hips in one direction several times and repeat the same exercise in the opposite direction.
Benefit: Stretches the entire circumference of this hip joint and optimizes range of motion.
Begin to bend at the knee joint from a standing position with your feet hips-width distance apart and parallel. Maintain a flat back and send your booty back as you squat. Repeat several times.
Benefit: Tones the muscles of your glutes, legs and abdomen and increases hip mobility.
7. Wrist Circles
From a standing or seated position, circle your wrists in one direction several times and repeat in the opposite direction. Repeat the same exercise on the opposite wrist. For more wrist-specific exercises, see my sequence to combat wrist tendinitis.
Benefit: This agility exercise improves wrist mobility and offloads stress on the wrist joint.
8. Ankle Rolls
From a standing or seated position, circle your ankle in one direction several times and repeat in the opposite direction. Repeat the same exercise on the opposite ankle. For more ankle-specific exercises, check out my sequence to improve ankle mobility.
Benefit: This agility exercise improves ankle mobility and offloads stress on the ankle joint.
9. Leg Circles
From a table-top or down-dog position, lift one leg straight back and bend the knee. Circle your leg in one direction several times before you repeat the same action in the opposite direction. Repeat the same exercise on the opposite leg. To finish, rock your hips from side-to-side.
Benefit: Stretches the circumference of the hip joint and optimizes range of motion.
From a standing position, step one leg straight back and bend your standing leg knee into a lunge. Return to standing and repeat on the opposite side. For a more advanced variation, move swiftly from one side to the opposite side and jump-switch your legs between sides.
Benefit: This mobility exercise builds strength and heat. Tones the muscles of your glutes and legs. Optimizes agility as it creates hip flexion in the front leg and increases hip extension of the back leg.
11. Lunge Twists
From a lunge position, rotate your torso toward your bent knee side of the lunge and reach that same-side arm to the sky. Switch legs and repeat the same action on the opposite side.
Benefit: This mobility exercise improves spinal extension and rotation and builds heat in the body.
12. Shake It Off!
Just like a dog needs a good shake to release stress and anxiety, so do humans! Begin wherever you like with this one. Shake out your feet, your hands and your full body. Let yourself go!
Benefit: Increases circulation, increases mobility in your joints, makes you smile! 🙂
The Benefits of Mobility Exercises are Endless!
Overall, it’s super important to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly and maintain movement as you age. These twelve mobility exercises help increase vitality, flexibility, circulation, and mobility… all in all, this mobility exercise sequence helps you improve your overall agility as you age!
You should feel good and stay as agile as possible for as long as you are alive. More than anything, remember to have fun with it and avoid taking yourself and/or your wellness goals too seriously. Keep your spirit young and vibrant and you’ll be alright!
Up Level Your Balance With This Stability and Mobility Exercises Yoga Flow Sequence
With Alba Avella
Increase mobility in your hips, shoulders, and other main joints of the body with unique and challenging movement in this YA Classes flow. You will increase core strength, body awareness, and muscle activation to access a deeper level of full body stability (great for balance!) and mobility.