Staying Active: Fitness & Exercise Tips for Seniors

Benefits of Exercise for Seniors

What Are the Benefits of Exercise of Seniors?

At every stage of life, staying active helps you feel and look your best, particularly for older adults. Exercise for seniors can improve flexibility, strength, endurance and balance, keeping them healthy for a longer time. Many exercises can dramatically improve conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis—and they can be fun and energizing, too!

Even for someone who has been relatively sedentary, starting a gentle exercise regime can improve energy levels, boost mood and promote a wide range of health benefits, said Dr. Greg Wells, a professor in the department of kinesiology and physical education at the University of Toronto. As a caregiver, you can help support your parent by encouraging them to try Dr. Wells’ top picks for healthy senior exercises and giving them these excellent exercise tips for seniors:

Take a Walk

By far, the best activity is walking, and the benefits of walking are great. You can do it any time, any place, and it burns calories and works major muscle groups. “Aim to start with a 15 minute walk, and gradually increase over time,” Dr. Wells said. A walking workout incorporates hills or slightly challenging terrain, which can improve fitness, while walking with sticks can also add some upper body strengthening. Walking at a brisk pace (over 3 miles an hour) is great for cardiovascular health, and can also lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. To keep things fun, trying monitoring daily step counts with a fitness tracker such as the Lively Wearable, a simple pedometer for seniors with built in medical alert.

Do Leg Raises

The benefits of leg raises are a great because they challenge balance, and they also help build strength in the legs, hips, buttocks and lower back muscles. To perform them with support, try the chair leg raise by holding on to a chair in front. Bring one leg out to the side, carefully maintaining alignment from your heel to your hip. With a straight back, bring your leg back in to touch the opposite leg. Dr. Wells recommends trying to complete two sets of 10 repetitions for each leg.

Try a Chair Stand

Falls and broken bones become more likely as you age, but building up muscle mass and improving balance can help reduce risk. The chair stand is a great exercise for this purpose. Begin by sitting down in an armless chair. Maintaining a straight back and shoulders, extend your arms out parallel to the ground and begin to rise, relying on your large leg muscles to propel yourself up. Go slowly, and try not to use your hands. Then sit down and repeat the entire exercise 10 – 15 times. Try to get up to 30-45 repetitions.

The Superman Exercise

Dr. Wells also recommends the “Superman exercise,” which helps strengthen your lower back muscles, and gives you a great overall stretch. Begin by lying prone on your stomach with arms outstretched like Superman. Raise your head, neck, right arm and left leg as far as you can off the floor (this part takes coordination!). Then lower and repeat this maneuver on the opposite side. Try to keep your belly button drawn in toward your spine and don’t strain your neck muscles. Aim for five repetitions on each side.

Stay Motivated

Getting motivated to exercise, and making time for it, can be challenging for anyone. Download an exercise podcast for your parent to help keep them entertained while they complete their daily goals.

If you’re worried about a parent and their physical health, sharing these step-by-step exercises from Dr. Wells can be a great way to encourage positive steps toward a realistic exercise regime. Even better, try doing these exercises together to enjoy the health and stress relief benefits yourself, along with some quality time with one another!

Want more senior exercise ideas? Click here to read about the invigorating benefits of yoga. 

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Tagged with: exercise, fitness, health

14 thoughts on “Staying Active: Fitness & Exercise Tips for Seniors

  1. asdadf
    March 15, 2016 at 5:30 am


  2. Sandy
    March 16, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Checking my area for water aerobics. The exercises mentioned sound great to build strength and balance.

    1. William
      March 22, 2018 at 4:07 pm

      Tell me everything that it’s about

  3. judy wilson
    March 31, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    A few of these exercises would be great for my mom to do. She’s getting pretty old, so exercising will help her be more physically fit. The chair stand seems like a great exercise for her to try. She needs to build muscle mass and improve balance, so this would be great for her since it achieves both of these things. I’ll show this page to her so that she can know a few exercises that would be safe for her to do on her own. Thanks for posting this!

  4. Cathy
    September 18, 2016 at 6:32 am

    I am a 70 year old “girl” and have found the Silver Sneakers classes

    really rock! I get great workouts designed for this time of my life and

    throughly enjoy the the friendships of my class members. Life is good.

  5. Cheryl
    March 11, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    Will these exercises help chronic pain and fibromyalgia pain?

  6. Jay Cecil
    March 21, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    Swimming is the best for you, it gets every muscle in your body and your cardiovascular workout. If you can’t swim or don’t know how, then walk in a pool instead of walking outside. You have your bodies natural buoyancy protects your joints from injury, while getting a great resistance workout😁♥️

  7. Lori Scronce
    March 25, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    I need more of a diet plan for each meal daily . Also all the foods that are good for you .

  8. Sandy Wheeler
    March 26, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    At 62, do not consider myself as senior citizen. Diagnosed with MS in early 2017. Strength, dizziness, being tired and cognitive issues along with depression seem to be my issues right now. Appreciate any exercise tips you have to offer. Not ready to stop living my life. Have 3 grandkids under 7 to keep up with!

  9. N Y
    March 31, 2018 at 5:46 am

    I would like to have a series of exercises which really help me to improve my flexibility. Are there any warming exercises available for doing them before start your daily rutine?

  10. Amelia cayabyab
    August 4, 2018 at 12:35 am

    I wanna know about this exercises. I’m 64 years old and have rheumatoid arthritis

  11. T
    August 23, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    I’m 95 and still living alone, fall easily so use a walker. Need exercise to help my balance. Email is Fran

  12. mary
    August 28, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    Cancer and weak need motivated

  13. Luke Smith
    September 30, 2019 at 11:21 pm

    You’re right about saying that pre-work shift exercises can decrease the possibility of having bone diseases such as arthritis and osteoporosis. My grandfather who is a veteran soldier still goes to work for his administrative duties. Part of his administrative duties is to recommend a program that can be implemented daily without too much preparation and budget. I think that suggesting a routinary pre-work exercise to the seniors will boost their mood and will provide an avenue to create new relationships.

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