A Physio’s Favourite Exercises to Improve Mobility

A sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity can impact mobility and flexibility, regardless of your age and lifestyle habits. Incorporate these exercises into your regimen to keep your body healthy and moving.

By URLife Team
08 Nov 2023

It might be your back that starts aching as soon as you get up, or that crick in your neck because you haven’t slept right. Your knee starts making noises whenever you get up or sit down. It might be that the feeling of stiffness and discomfort becomes too familiar for your liking. You notice as your range of motion starts reducing. Whether you’re in your twenties or in your golden years, maintaining good mobility is the key to leading a vibrant and active life. While time and inactivity can conspire to rob you of your freedom of movement, you can still reclaim it with the right set of exercises.


According to  World Health Organisation, 1/3rd of the global population aged 15 years and older engages in insufficient physical activities, which impacts their health long-term.


The reason for inadequate physical activities could be a sedentary lifestyle or reduced range of motion. A sedentary lifestyle has many effects on the human body, especially the metabolic processes. A sedentary lifestyle leads to a decrease in physical activity, which reduces the activity of lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme needed to break down fat. This impairs the body’s ability to metabolise fat, which in turn raises triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels, and increases the risk of heart disease. It also affects muscle glucose and protein transporter activities, which leads to difficulties in regulating blood sugar and maintaining muscle mass. Eventually, this increases the risk of developing insulin resistance, a condition in which the body does not respond appropriately to insulin, leading to diabetes.


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According to a 2023 study by the University of Eastern Finland, in adolescents, sedentary time may increase heart size three times more than moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.


A sedentary lifestyle also adversely affects cardiovascular health. It reduces cardiac output and blood flow, which means the heart can pump less blood and reduces the flow of oxygen and nutrients to vital organs. To compensate, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, which leads to increased stress responses and higher blood pressure. Additionally, a sedentary lifestyle also hampers the balance of hormones in the body such as sex hormones and increases the risk of hormone-related cancers.


Another 2023 research by the European Society of Cardiology states that hours of inactivity during childhood could be setting the stage for heart attacks and strokes later in life.


The consequences of a sedentary lifestyle or reduced range of motion are far-reaching and it is important to maintain an active lifestyle to support overall health and well-being. You can begin this journey by doing basic exercises that help work on your reduced range of motion and increase physical activity, flexibility and motion.


Related Post: 7 Moves To Relieve Stiffness From Sitting All Day—Full Body Mobility Routine


We spoke to Dr. Vinay Aindala (Doctor of Physical Therapy), who currently holds the position of Senior Manager at UR.Life, Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad. With over 11 years of extensive expertise in the field, he graciously shared a range of highly effective mobility exercises suitable for individuals of all ages as mentioned below:


Half Kneeling Arm Rotation

Targeted area: Shoulder

Repetitions: 8 to 10

  • Start in a half-kneeling position. Bend on one knee and step the other leg forward to create a 90-degree knee angle.
  • Keep your spine upright, shoulders relaxed and your core engaged for stability.
  • Take your right arm and extend it forward over your shoulder. Your palm should be facing down.
  • Start the movement by rotating your extended arm around your body as you rotate at the shoulder joint.
  • Keep rotating until your arm is parallel to your body on the opposite side with your palm facing up.
  • Take a deep breath and hold this end position for a while. Focus on feeling your shoulders and chest gently expand.
  • Slowly reverse your movement and rotate your arm back to the starting position, palm facing down.


Related Post: 15-Minute Mobility Routine To Relax Stiff Muscles


Thoracic Rotation with Deep Lateral Kneeling

Targeted Area: Thoracic Spine

Repetitions: 8 to 10

  • Start on your knees with your knees about hip-width apart.
  • Turn your hips to the right and shift your weight to one side. Your right thigh should rest on your right leg and your left leg should be extended out to the side. 
  • Keep your spine up and free, and keep your chest up and shoulders relaxed.
  • Place your hands on your chest and press your palms together.
  • Turn your torso to the right and start rotating. Put your hands together and use them as pivot points.
  • Focus on mobilising your thoracic spine and rotate your upper body as far to the right as possible.
  • Take a deep breath and hold this cycle for a while.
  • To return back to the centre- take it slowly and in control, facing forward and re-centering your torso. Repeat for 8 to 10 times
  • After completing the repetitions on one side, shift your weight to the other side (left side)  and switch to the opposite side and turn left


Related Post: How to Get Your Fitness Groove Back – Tips From Celebrities


Deep Squat Rotation

Targeted areas: Lower body and hip flexors

Repetitions: 8 to 12 on each side.

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower your body into a deep rotation. To do this, keep your back straight and chest up and bend at the knees and hips.
  • Try to go as low as possible while maintaining good posture. It’s okay if your heels are slightly bent, but aim to keep them as close to the ground as possible.
  • Place your hands on your chest and press your palms together.
  • In a deep squat position, turn your upper body to the right and start rotating. Put your hands together and use them as pivot points.
  • Focus on mobilising your thoracic spine and rotate your upper body as far to the right as possible.
  • Hold this cycle for a while and take a deep breath.
  • Slowly and automatically bring your upper body back to the centre facing forward.
  • Take the same steps around to the left using the same steps on the right.
  • Once you have completed the repetitions you want on both sides, get up from the deep squat position.


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Disclaimer: It's important to note that if you have any orthopaedic or physical health concerns, you should seek professional guidance before performing any above-mentioned exercises. Consulting with a physical therapist can help ensure that your exercise routine is safe and tailored to your specific needs and limitations.


Improving mobility is an essential component of maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. Incorporating exercises like half kneeling arm rotation, deep squat rotation and thoracic rotation with deep lateral kneeling into your routine can help you move freely and make you more active and flexible.


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