7 Best Exercises for Seniors (and a Few to Avoid!) | Senior Lifestyle (2023)

Exercise and nutrition are essential parts of a healthy lifestyle throughout one’s life, and as we age, our requirements are ever changing. A growing body of research illustrates how regular exercise is especially important for seniors, and how more seniors are opting for an active lifestyle instead of a sedentary one. This article will show you the benefits of exercise for older adults, the seven best forms of exercise for seniors, and a few exercises that may be hazardous to seniors’ health.

The Health Benefits of Exercise in Older Adults

Our biology changes as we get older, causing seniors to have different reasons for staying in shape than younger generations. Though physical fitness provides benefits at any age, the health perks physically fit seniors enjoy are more notable. Physicians and researchers say seniors should remain as active as possible, without overexerting one’s self. In older adults, exercise helps you live a longer, healthier, and more joyous life.

Some of the benefits of exercising later in life include:

More exercise means more independence for seniors:

Seniors that exercise regularly are less likely to depend on others. According to Harvard Medical School, regular exercise promotes an older adults ability to walk, bathe, cook, eat, dress, and use the restroom. If self-reliance is a priority, exercise is one of the best ways to maintain independence for older adults.

Exercise improves balance for older adults:

Falling down is a much bigger deal for older adults than younger ones. Every 11 seconds, an older adult is admitted to an emergency room for a fall-related injury, and every 19 minutes, a senior dies from a fall, according to the National Council of Aging. Though no two falls are alike, and preventing falls is very complex, regular exercise reduces the likelihood of falling by 23%.

Regular exercise means more energy:

Though it seems counter-intuitive, being inactive makes you tired and being active gives you more energy. Any amount of exercise promotes the release of endorphins, which are essential neurotransmitters linked to pain mitigation and a sense of well-being. Endorphins combat stress hormones, promote healthy sleep, and make you feel more lively and energetic, overall.

Exercise helps prevent and counteract disease:

Heart disease, osteoporosis, depression and diabetes are common diseases among older adults, and are often deadly. Fortunately, adopting a more active lifestyle can contribute to the prevention of these diseases, or reduce the unpleasant symptoms of these diseases if you already have them. If you are at-risk for disease, exercise may be the key to warding off an unpleasant condition.

Regular exercise improves brain function:

One of the most remarkable developments in health science is the revelation that the mind and the body are much more closely linked. A healthy body likely means a healthy mind, and seniors that exercise on a regular basis have improved cognitive health, according to research from NCBI. More recently, a study from the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, regular exercise has been shown to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia by nearly 50%.

(Video) 5 Exercises All Seniors Should Do Daily

The Best Exercises for Seniors

Exercise is crucial for older adults, but it can be hard to know where to begin. If you haven’t worked out for a while, re-entry into the active world can be daunting. There’s also a good chance the exercises you were once accustomed to aren’t ideal for older adults.

Before you launch into an exercise regimen, it’s important to check with a physician to ensure you’re healthy enough for exercise, and to see which exercises are ideal for your current fitness level.

1. Water aerobics

7 Best Exercises for Seniors (and a Few to Avoid!) | Senior Lifestyle (1)

In the past years, water aerobics have become an extremely popular form of exercise among all ages, but in particular to seniors. Exercising in the water is ideal for those living with arthritis and other forms of joint pain, as the buoyancy of the water puts less stress on your joints. Additionally, water brings natural resistance, which eliminates the need for weights in strength training. Water aerobics exercises improve your strength, flexibility, and balance with minimal stress on your body.

Great water aerobics exercises for seniors include:

  1. Aqua jogging
  2. Flutter kicking
  3. Leg lifts
  4. Standing water push-ups
  5. Arm curls

2. Chair yoga

7 Best Exercises for Seniors (and a Few to Avoid!) | Senior Lifestyle (2)

Like water aerobics, chair yoga is a low-impact form of exercise that improves muscle strength, mobility, balance and flexibility, all of which are crucial health aspects for seniors. Chair yoga is an accessible form of yoga that provides less stress on muscles, joints, and bones than more conventional forms of yoga.

As an added bonus, chair yoga has been shown to improve mental health in older adults. Regular chair yoga participants have better quality sleep, lower instances of depression, and report a general sense of well-being.

(Video) 7 Exercises For Seniors to Prevent Falls & Improve Balance + Giveaway

Great chair yoga exercises for seniors include:

  • Overhead stretch
  • Seated cow stretch
  • Seated cat stretch
  • Seated mountain pose
  • Seated twist

3. Resistance band workouts

7 Best Exercises for Seniors (and a Few to Avoid!) | Senior Lifestyle (3)

Resistance bands are stretchy strips of rubber that add resistance to workouts with reduced stress on your body. Resistance band workouts are user-friendly, and accessible for beginners. This form of exercise is growing more popular among seniors because of the relatively cheap up-front costs of materials, which makes resistance band workouts ideal for at-home exercise. Additionally, these exercises are ideal for strengthening your core, which improves posture, mobility, and balance.

Resistance band workouts for seniors include:

  • Leg press
  • Triceps press
  • Lateral raise
  • Bicep curl
  • Band pull apart

4. Pilates

7 Best Exercises for Seniors (and a Few to Avoid!) | Senior Lifestyle (4)

Pilates is a popular low-impact form of exercise that was developed a century ago. In pilates exercises, breathing, alignment, concentration and core strength are emphasized, and typically involves mats, pilates balls, and other inflated accessories to help build strength without the stress of higher-impact exercises. Pilates has been shown to improve balance, develop core strength and increase flexibility in older adults.

Some great pilates exercises for older adults include:

  • Mermaid movement
  • Side circles
  • Food slides
  • Step ups
  • Leg circle

7 Best Exercises for Seniors (and a Few to Avoid!) | Senior Lifestyle (5)

Download The Complete Guide to Health & Wellness for Seniors

As people grow older, their health and wellness needs change. Read our eBook, “The Complete Guide to Health & Wellness for Seniors” for everything you need to know about staying healthy and happy as we age.

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(Video) ✔7 Best Exercises💪 For Seniors👵👴 And A Few To Avoid! ~ (Vlog✍)

5. Walking

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One of the least stressful and accessible forms of exercise is walking. For some seniors, walking is a bigger challenge than others, so distance and step goals differ from person to person. For the general population, 10,000 steps per day is advised for a healthy lifestyle, but those with difficulty walking or joint pain may settle for a smaller number as a goal. A PLOS One study found that walking 10,000 steps lowered the ten-year outlook for mortality by 46%. Walking promotes a healthy lifestyle, while strengthening muscles, lowering your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and colon cancer.

Ideas for walking exercises for seniors:

(Video) Seated Exercises for Older Adults

  • Find a moderate trail through a park
  • Find a walk-friendly race to train for
  • Walk the perimeter of a familiar building
  • Find an audiobook or a playlist for stimulation during your walk

6. Body weight workouts

7 Best Exercises for Seniors (and a Few to Avoid!) | Senior Lifestyle (7)

Muscle loss can be devastating and debilitating for older adults. Around a third of seniors live with severe muscle loss, which can lead to hormone problems, a decrease in the ability to metabolize protein, and other problems. Body weight workouts are one of the best ways to counteract the effects of muscle atrophy in older adults. One of the key benefits of body weight workouts is the affordability. The materials required for body weight workouts are minimal; most body weight workouts require workout clothes and a mat to soften impact with the floor.

Some great body weight workouts for seniors include:

  • Squats to chair
  • Stepup
  • Bird dog
  • Lying hip bridges
  • Side lying circles

7. Dumbbell strength training

7 Best Exercises for Seniors (and a Few to Avoid!) | Senior Lifestyle (8)

Strength training has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of diabetes, osteoporosis, back pain, and depression, while helping you manage your weight. Strength training also contributes to a higher metabolism and enhanced glucose control. Dumbbell exercises are some of the best ways for seniors to strength train, if they are performed with the proper precautions. Dumbbells allow seniors to isolate muscle groups to strengthen, while improving balance and flexibility.

Some ideal dumbbell workouts for seniors include:

  • Bent-over row
  • Tricep extension
  • Bicep curl
  • Overhead press
  • Front raise

Exercises Seniors Should Avoid

A good percentage of popular mainstream workouts are not ideal for older adults. These popular workouts are well-suited for younger adults looking to bulk up or shed weight in a hurry, but they may put an unhealthy strain on older adults with joint pain, atrophied muscles, posture problems or issues with balance.

The following exercises should probably be avoided if you’re over the age of 65:

(Video) Top 10 Balance Exercises for Seniors at Home. STOP FALLS.

  • Squats with dumbbells or weights
  • Bench press
  • Leg press
  • Long-distance running
  • Abdominal crunches
  • Upright row
  • Deadlift
  • High-intensity interval training
  • Rock climbing
  • Power clean

FAQs

What kind of exercise should a 70 year old do? ›

Get aerobic exercise: Most older adults need about 2½ hours of aerobic exercise, like brisk walking, every week. That's about 30 minutes on most days. Endurance exercises like walking, dancing, and playing tennis help your breathing, heart rate, and energy. Stay flexible: Try stretching and yoga.

What is the best exercise activity for a 65 year old? ›

Older adults should do at least 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week, ideally spread out over several days. Moderate-intensity aerobic activity includes brisk walking, cycling, swimming, dancing and nature walks.

What is the best exercise for an 80 year old woman? ›

If you're an older adult looking to establish an exercise routine, you should, ideally, be able to incorporate 150 minutes of moderate endurance activity into your week. This can include walking, swimming, cycling, and a little bit of time every day to improve strength, flexibility, and balance.

How far should a 65 year old walk every day? ›

Generally, older adults in good physical shape walk somewhere between 2,000 and 9,000 steps daily. This translates into walking distances of 1 and 4-1/2 miles respectively. Increasing the walking distance by roughly a mile will produce health benefits.

What type of exercise is best for older adults? ›

Endurance exercises such as brisk walking and dancing improve the health of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. These exercises can make it easier for you to do things like mow the lawn and climb stairs.

Which exercise is best for anti aging? ›

Endurance exercise–like running, swimming, or bicycling–and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) both slowed signs of aging compared to lifting weights–at least on the cellular level.

What exercises burn belly fat for seniors? ›

Jogging : Both walking and jogging are the most effective belly fat burning exercises. If your muscle strength and endurance permit, you should consider jogging along with or instead of walking. Relatively shorter, slower jogs burn more calories than walking and have a significant impact on your health and weight.

What exercises should be avoided after 60? ›

Crunches/sit-ups

Crunches are a very common exercise, but also one seniors should avoid. The back becomes very fragile as years pass, and crunches become increasingly risky, especially if performed incorrectly. They can inflict painful injuries on your back muscles and joints.

What exercise should a 70 year old woman do? ›

Seniors 65 and older should get at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking) every week. That averages out to about 30 minutes on most days of the week. Or you should get 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise (such as jogging) each week.

How can I get more energy after 60? ›

How to Increase Energy After 60
  1. Increase Energy by Eating a Healthy Diet.
  2. Increase Energy by Addressing Emotional Factors.
  3. Increase Energy by Exercising.
  4. Increase Energy by Getting Enough Rest.
17 Mar 2021

What exercise should an 85 year old woman do? ›

Adults aged 65 and older need: At least 150 minutes a week (for example, 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) of moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking. Or they need 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity such as hiking, jogging, or running. At least 2 days a week of activities that strengthen muscles.

How can I strengthen my 80 year old legs? ›

12 Leg Strengthening Exercises for Seniors
  1. Calf Raises. Calf raises are one of the best leg strengthening exercises for seniors. ...
  2. Lunges. Lunges are a great lower body exercise for seniors. ...
  3. Half Squats. ...
  4. Knee Extensions. ...
  5. Ankle Circles. ...
  6. Step Up. ...
  7. Walking Heel to Toe. ...
  8. Single-Leg Stance.

How can I get stronger at 80? ›

To stay strong and vital, include a program of progressive resistance exercise into your fitness routine. That is, use weights, resistance bands, or your own body weight to gradually build up your strength. Muscular strength is the foundation of successful ageing.

What are the 7 physical needs of the elderly? ›

6) Practical care at end of life – Physical needs
  • Oral and mouth care. To make the person comfortable if they are not drinking well.
  • Nutrition. ...
  • Hygiene. ...
  • Pain relief. ...
  • Bowel and bladder care. ...
  • Positioning This is for comfort and to allow the person to be active if they are able but to rest when they cannot participate.

What is the easiest and simplest exercise that you need to stay healthy? ›

Walking. Walking is simple, yet powerful. It can help you stay trim, improve cholesterol levels, strengthen bones, keep blood pressure in check, lift your mood, and lower your risk for a number of diseases (diabetes and heart disease, for example).

What is the 10 best exercise? ›

Why these 10 exercises will rock your body
  1. Lunges. Challenging your balance is an essential part of a well-rounded exercise routine. ...
  2. Pushups. Drop and give me 20! ...
  3. Squats. ...
  4. Standing overhead dumbbell presses. ...
  5. Dumbbell rows. ...
  6. Single-leg deadlifts. ...
  7. Burpees. ...
  8. Side planks.

How much sleep do seniors need? ›

Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as all adults—7 to 9 hours each night. But, older people tend to go to sleep earlier and get up earlier than they did when they were younger. There are many reasons why older people may not get enough sleep at night.

Is it better to walk faster or longer? ›

In a new study, which looks at activity tracker data from 78,500 people, walking at a brisk pace for about 30 minutes a day led to a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, dementia and death, compared with walking a similar number of steps but at a slower pace.

Do old people sleep more? ›

Sleep patterns tend to change as you age. Most people find that aging causes them to have a harder time falling asleep. They wake up more often during the night and earlier in the morning. Total sleep time stays the same or is slightly decreased (6.5 to 7 hours per night).

What exercise can seniors do? ›

Brisk walking or jogging, dancing, swimming, and biking are examples. Strength exercises make your muscles stronger. Lifting weights or using a resistance band can build strength.

Why walking is the best exercise for older adults? ›

Help keep your weight steady. Lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, colon cancer and diabetes. Strengthen your bones, and prevent osteoporosis and osteoarthritis (regular walking could halve the number of people over 45 who fracture their hip). Help reduce blood pressure in some people with hypertension.

What are the exercises to look younger? ›

They help in reducing lines and wrinkles, and result in youthful looking skin.
...
1 Surprise, Surprise
  1. Surprise, Surprise. ...
  2. Frowning glory. ...
  3. Blink and miss. ...
  4. Chew, Chew. ...
  5. Balloon Blowing. ...
  6. Jaw Drop. ...
  7. The Stretch. ...
  8. The Shocked Stare.
6 Oct 2015

Which exercise makes you younger? ›

By strength training either by using resistance bands, weights or aerobic exercise, such as swimming, you can rebuild muscle and prevent bone loss. Taking care of your core and your spine has the added benefit of keeping your body and joints strong, and your taller posture will shave years off of your appearance.

How do you get rid of stubborn belly fat after 60? ›

To battle belly fat:
  1. Eat a healthy diet. Focus on plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and choose lean sources of protein and low-fat dairy products. ...
  2. Replace sugary beverages. ...
  3. Keep portion sizes in check. ...
  4. Include physical activity in your daily routine.

How can seniors get a flat stomach? ›

5 Exercises to Lose Belly Fat for Seniors
  • Feel the burn and tone your tummy with this fun workout. SilverSneakers. ...
  • Spine Twist. ...
  • Standing Mountain Climber. ...
  • Double Step Reach and Push. ...
  • Side Lunge with Diagonal Reach. ...
  • Rotational Squat + Low Jack. ...
  • Check Your SilverSneakers Eligibility Instantly.
18 Aug 2020

What is too much exercise for a 70 year old? ›

Recent studies have revealed that there is such a thing as too much exercise: individuals who exercise vigorously more than 7.5 hours per week are at a higher risk for developing Coronary Artery Calcification, heart damage, and rhythm disorders.

How can I rebuild my muscles after 65? ›

Strength training is the secret to muscle growth for older adults. It's best to do this with light weights and to work slowly. Slow movements with lighter weights force your muscles to work harder. If you don't have a set of weights, you can use your body weight with resistance exercises like push-ups and squats.

Can you regain muscle mass after age 60? ›

Repeated research has shown that, through weight training, men and women in their 60s and beyond can grow muscles as big and strong as an average 40-year-old.

What exercise reduces risk of dementia? ›

Several studies looking at the effect of aerobic exercise (exercise that increases your heart rate) in middle-aged or older adults have reported improvements in thinking and memory, and reduced rates of dementia.

How many steps should a 70 year old woman take a day? ›

Many experts agree that the recommended steps per day for seniors is 7,000-10,000. People who live with a disability or chronic illness can still benefit from an active lifestyle, and depending on individual abilities may strive for 5,500 steps per day.

What is the best way for seniors to build muscle? ›

Exercise alongside a healthy balance of nutrients, activity, and rest is crucial to increase the physical strength of seniors, maintain a healthy fitness routine, and maintain muscle growth. Walking with free weights or dumbbells and bike riding for seniors are all excellent choices.

What Vitamin gives most energy? ›

Vitamin B12 along with B6 are best for energy. Almost every cell in the body uses B12. Besides helping form red blood cells, B12 converts fat and protein to energy. A B12 deficiency causes tiredness and anemia.

What vitamin is best for fatigue? ›

The 5 Best Vitamins for Energy & Tiredness
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) ...
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) ...
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin) ...
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) ...
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

What's the best vitamin to take for energy? ›

The eight B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6, biotin, folate and B12) provide the most energy, as they aid in cell metabolism, help the body transform carbohydrates and fats into energy and carry energy-nutrients around the body.

Can you build muscle at 75 years old? ›

Seniors who work at it, however, can still make strength gains. “Research shows that, even into your late 80s, your body still has the potential to build muscle mass,” Stacy Schroder, director of wellness at Masonic Village at Elizabethtown, said.

How can seniors improve balance? ›

Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step 2: Extend your arms out to the sides and slowly lift your right knee up off the floor. Step 3: Straighten your leg out in front of you, hold that position for 30 seconds, and relax. Repeat this exercise for both legs at least three times.

What helps weak legs in elderly? ›

To combat lower extremity weakness in your legs consider participating in daily exercise and a healthy diet. Elevate your legs: Poor circulation can put pressure onto your leg and affect the bodies lower extremities. When the legs and feet are elevated 6 – 12 inches above the heart, it relieves pressure from the legs.

What is the best exercise for weak legs? ›

Some good leg strengthening exercises include:
  • Squats — Squatting is one of the best resistance workouts you can do. ...
  • Lunges — Lunges are a great way to enhance strength and stability in your legs since you are forced to balance all of your body weight on one leg for a short period of time.

How can I strengthen my weak legs and knees? ›

10 Exercises for Weak Knees
  1. Wall or Chair Squats. If your knees are weak, stand in front of a chair or against a wall while you do squats so that you don't lose your balance. ...
  2. Full Chair Sits-to-Stands. ...
  3. Lunges. ...
  4. Straight Leg Lifts. ...
  5. Side Leg Raises. ...
  6. Short-Arcs. ...
  7. Step-ups or Knee Marching. ...
  8. Calf and Abductor Raises.
21 Dec 2020

Can a senior regain strength? ›

With the right support, frame of mind, patience, and encouragement, seniors can certainly expect to regain lost muscle mass. To build strength, physical therapists recommend stretching, resistance and weight-bearing exercises.

Can a 70 year old person build muscle? ›

Seniors Can Still Bulk Up On Muscle By Pressing Iron Our muscle mass decreases at surprising rates as we get older. But researchers found that people older than 50 can not only maintain but actually increase their muscle mass by lifting weights.

What foods build muscle in seniors? ›

10 Power Foods that Help Seniors Build Strong Muscles
  • Meat: Rich in protein, animal meat is an ideal dietary option for seniors. ...
  • Fatty Fish: In case one is a non-vegetarian, seniors also have the option of consuming fatty fish, which features a significant amount of protein. ...
  • Tofu: ...
  • Eggs: ...
  • Milk: ...
  • Cheese: ...
  • Beans: ...
  • Nuts:
2 May 2022

Can a 70 year old get in shape? ›

No matter what your age, you can improve your fitness.

You can improve your fitness at any age. "The stories in this area are actually very dramatic. Even people 100 years old or older can build muscle strength," says Dr.

Can you still build muscle at 70 years old? ›

“Research shows that, even into your late 80s, your body still has the potential to build muscle mass,” Stacy Schroder, director of wellness at Masonic Village at Elizabethtown, said.

Can I build muscle at age 70? ›

Seniors Can Still Bulk Up On Muscle By Pressing Iron Our muscle mass decreases at surprising rates as we get older. But researchers found that people older than 50 can not only maintain but actually increase their muscle mass by lifting weights.

How many steps should a 73 year old woman take a day? ›

Many experts agree that the recommended steps per day for seniors is 7,000-10,000. People who live with a disability or chronic illness can still benefit from an active lifestyle, and depending on individual abilities may strive for 5,500 steps per day.

What foods build muscle? ›

Muscle building foods for gaining lean muscle
  • Eggs. Eggs contain high quality protein, healthy fats, and other important nutrients like B vitamins and choline ( 1 ). ...
  • Salmon. Salmon is a great choice for muscle building and overall health. ...
  • Chicken breast. ...
  • Greek yogurt. ...
  • Tuna. ...
  • Lean beef. ...
  • Shrimp. ...
  • Soybeans.

Can elderly regain leg strength? ›

"Older people can definitely regain good leg strength if they do regular strengthening exercises and increase the intensity of their exercises in a slow and safe way.

What exercise should an 80 year old do? ›

Your health benefits will also increase with the more physical activity that you do. Adults aged 65 and older need: At least 150 minutes a week (for example, 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) of moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking.

At what age does the body stop building muscle? ›

Typically, muscle mass and strength increase steadily from birth and reach their peak at around 30 to 35 years of age. After that, muscle power and performance decline slowly and linearly at first, and then faster after age 65 for women and 70 for men.

Can an 80 year old still build muscle? ›

A new study found that men in their 70s and 80s who had never followed an exercise regimen could build muscle mass as well as "master athletes" -- those of the same age who had worked out throughout their lives and still competed at the top levels of their sports.

How do you rebuild muscle atrophy in the legs? ›

You can recover from muscle atrophy by exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. You may start seeing improvement after a few months, but it may take much longer for you to fully recover your strength.

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