4 Best Exercise Routines for Seniors

  • senior-man-riding-a-bike
    Healthy senior fitness routines focus on endurance, strength, flexibility and balance.
    A well-rounded senior exercise routine has four major components: endurance, strength, flexibility and balance. While exercise for seniors is similar to other adult regimens, older people should consider putting extra emphasis on balance exercises. Falls account for more than half of unintentional injury-related deaths in people age 65 and older. Preventing falls, along with preserving range of motion and maintaining independence, are just some of the benefits seniors will enjoy from a regular exercise routine.

  • Mature couple jogging
    1. Endurance Exercises
    Aerobic activities help build endurance by making you breathe harder and raising your heart rate, which strengthens your heart and reduces your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Endurance exercises also benefit your lungs and circulatory system. You’ll improve your overall physical fitness, which will give you better stamina to do the things you do every day. Aerobics can include anything from doing the tango to raking leaves. Aim for at least two and a half hours of moderate aerobic exercise each week.

  • Senior water aerobics
    Ideas for Endurance Exercises
    Endurance exercise for seniors can be the same as for any adult as long as the older person takes into consideration his or her current state of health and level of physical fitness. Exercises at the moderate-intensity level include brisk walking, water aerobics, gardening, and some types of dancing. At this workout level, you should be able to talk while moving enough to break a sweat. If you prefer vigorous-intensity exercises, try jogging, more energetic dancing, or riding a stationary bike (or other exercise machine).

  • Man-Using-Weights-Machine-With-Runner-On-Treadmill-In-Background
    2. Strength Exercises
    Just like it sounds, strength exercises benefit senior fitness because they strengthen your muscles. Strength exercises, also known as resistance training, help build muscle mass and keep osteoporosis at bay. This type of exercise can also help seniors stay independent longer, helping them preserve the ability to perform everyday tasks, such as walking and carrying groceries. Strength exercises won’t necessarily help you lose weight, but they will make it easier for you to keep your weight under control.

  • smiling-woman-lifting-weights
    Ideas for Strength Exercises
    Exercises using a resistance band, dumbbells or even your own body weight can help you build muscle. Chair exercises for seniors are a popular way to get the workout you need. For strength, sit in a solid chair (like a dining room chair without arms) with your arms by your sides. Keeping your arms straight and your shoulders down, lift your arms out to the side and over your head as far as you can, repeating five times. Informal activities also can qualify as strengthening exercises, such as carrying groceries or lifting and digging while you work in the garden.

  • african american senior woman stretching on beach
    3. Flexibility Exercises & Stretching
    Stretching exercises help improve flexibility and your overall physical fitness. For seniors, stretching exercises can help preserve or even extend your range of motion, which allows you to continuing doing many of your daily tasks independently. It’s also important to stretch after doing endurance exercises to reduce your risk of injury and muscle soreness. Focus on stretching major muscle groups in both your upper and lower body for at least 10 minutes a day, two days a week.

  • senior-woman-with-physical-therapist
    Ideas for Flexibility & Stretching Exercises
    Stretching exercises for seniors should include a variety of activities. Yoga can be a fun way to stretch your body, and you can also do specific exercises to focus on certain areas. Be sure to include many areas of your body for stretching—your neck, shoulders, triceps, chest, back, hips, thighs, hamstrings, calves and ankles should all get stretched to improve your range of motion. To prevent hurting yourself, don’t bounce while you stretch, and don’t stretch to the point of pain—that’s too far.

  • senior-couple-stretching-legs
    4. Balance Exercises
    Balance exercises for seniors are especially important because older people are often at higher risk for falls. Improving your balance can help prevent these accidents. For safety’s sake, it’s important to hold on to a chair or a friend when you first begin balance exercises. As you progress, you’ll be able to use the support less and less until you may no longer need it at all. There’s no limit on how many balance exercises you can do in a day or week.

  • Senior yoga
    Ideas for Balance Exercises
    If you enjoy meditation, try tai chi to work on your balance. Tai chi involves deep breathing while doing slow, deliberate and precise movements. You can also try walking heel-to-toe and see how far you can get while keeping your balance, or even simply standing on one foot as long as you can. Chair exercises for seniors can also include lower-body exercises, which can help with balance. Hold onto the back of a chair and raise your leg to the side or to the back, or stand on your toes.

Balance, Stretching & Chair Exercises | 4 Ways Seniors Can Stay Fit

About The Author

Ashley Festa is a Greenville, S.C.-based freelance writer and editor who has been writing professionally for nearly two decades. In addition to Healthgrades, she also has written for Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, the University of Texas at Arlington School of Nursing and Health Innovation, and Fit Pregnancy magazine.
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  9. Improve Your Flexibility. National Institute on Aging. https://go4life.nia.nih.gov/exercises/flexibility
  10. Falls Cause Most Accidental Deaths in Elderly Americans. Medscape. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/844322
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Sep 5
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