We may not give much thought to mundane daily activities like going to the grocery store or tasks such as light house cleaning.  But as we age, those activities can become difficult because of stiff joints, back problems, or other mobility issues. 

Being able to get around easily and move comfortably makes quality of life so much better for senior citizens. Attention to maintaining joint mobility as well as overall body mobility, balance, and good posture are key elements in leading a healthy, independent life.  

Even though we can’t stop the aging process, seniors can work to strengthen muscles through eating a healthy diet and exercising every day. Daily exercise helps ward off depression and assists in counteracting medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, and dementia. With improved muscle strength and balance, seniors have fewer falls and more overall energy.  

seniors exercise

Remember to start a new exercise program slowly and work up to a goal set with your medical provider based on your age and health . Take a look at these exercises that can be beneficial  for overall health and fitness:

Stretching and Flexibility

Neck Stretch- Sit up tall in a chair.  Bring your chin down to your chest. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

Hip Stretch – Sit tall on the floor.  Bend your knees and let the soles of your feet touch in a “butterfly position”. With a straight spine, grab each foot with your hands.  Inhale as you prepare the posture, exhale as you lower your torso forward. Hold the stretch for 60 seconds.

Hamstring  Stretch – Sit on the edge of a chair and extend one let out in front of your body.  Flex your foot to feel the stretch.  Hold 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat on your other side.

Walking and Hiking

Getting outdoors to enjoy nature and some fresh air has multiple benefits.  A brisk walk or hike not only gets you out of the house but when done regularly helps reduce symptoms of arthritis, increases bone density, and improves heart health.

Cycling

  • Because cycling is a low impact sport, it’s one of the best exercises for seniors.  Seniors can reduce cholesterol levels, improve muscle mass, and improve immunity and cardiovascular health.  One recent study published in The BMJ, (a peer reviewed journal), went so far as to suggest regular cycling even helps you live longer

Tai Chi

The slow, gentle art of tai chi provides seniors with an attainable exercise program to help with core strength, reduce depression, and improve balance. A recent study by Emory University suggests that  taking Tai chi classes can reduce falls up to 50%.  

Ballroom Dancing

A favorite activity of many seniors, ballroom dancing provides many health benefits.  Not only does this activity provide physical benefits but provides an opportunity to socialize.  Socialization can not only reduce stress and anxiety but ward off depression as well. Physical benefits including improved muscle tone and strength, increased bone density, and better cardiovascular health and balance are only a few benefits ballroom dancing provides.  

Water Aerobics

Water aerobics for seniors provides a way to relieve stress without putting unwanted strain on your joints. Seniors who struggle with arthritis in hips, ankles, and knees can benefit from water aerobic programs since other forms of exercise such as hiking or tennis are high impact and can lead to pain and discomfort.   Community pools provide a perfect opportunity to meet new friends and exercise in a group setting.  Improved flexibility and balance as well as increased bone health are just a couple of benefits of this popular exercise.

Seniors Water Aerobics

Yoga and Pilates

Both yoga and pilates are good activities for seniors.  Low impact and calming, these exercises are beneficial for stress management as well as physical strength and flexibility.  Both types are performed on a mat.

YogaThis centuries old practice from India connects mind and body through body movements and a focus on breathing.  Vinyasa, yin, and hatha are some types of yoga to consider.  

Pilates Pilates can be described as a resistance program partially done on a mat but also incorporates the use of special pilates machines. The ultimate goal is to develop a stronger core. 

Strength and Balance Exercises

The importance of staying strong and maintaining good balance during the senior years can’t be emphasized enough.  Using resistance bands and dumbbells 

Resistance BandsCheap and portable, resistance bands help improve muscle strength, balance, and help tone muscles.  These elastic bands provide resistance during your workout by maintaining constant tension on the muscles during the movement of an exercise.  

DumbbellsThese free weights are less portable and take up more space than resistance bands but if you have a convenient place to store them, dumbbells can be a huge asset to your workout routine.  Choose a weight that will allow you to do 8-12 repetitions without too much strain. 

Strength and Balance Exercises

Strength and Balance Exercises

Be sure to let your muscles rest at least a full day before you begin your next weight lifting session.

Remember, when it comes to exercise every little bit helps.  By getting off the couch and moving around daily, seniors can benefit by increased mobility as well as overall mental and physical health.  Find some exercises you enjoy and do them alone or with friends.  Chances are you’ll feel better and wonder why you didn’t get started sooner!