Best Exercises for Seniors

best exercises for seniors

You're tired. You don't feel like it. But you should get some exercise anyway.




Exercise helps with strength and flexibility of the body and can contribute to weight loss. Those are some facts that we all know and can see in anecdotal evidence presented over the decades. But there are lots of other benefits that exercise brings that can really help improve our quality of life as we age.


·         It improves your balance. Did you know that every 11 seconds, an older individual goes to an emergency department as a result of a fall[1]? Those stats from the National Council of Aging are sobering. But regular exercise can improve your balance and help you avoid those falls. Harvard Medical School says that regular exercise can reduce your fall risk by a significant 23%.

·         It prevents disease. There are many debilitating diseases that can show up as we age, including osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, and even depression. The good news is that your risk of developing these diseases can go down with exercise. If you already have these issues, proper exercise can lessen the symptoms[2].

·         It improves mobility. The motion of our hips has a great impact on our safety when walking. The more motion you have in your hips, the wider your base of physical support, which helps with fall prevention. Exercise also affects the back and core muscles, which help us walk upright. That means that our eyes will be in the proper position to scan the area ahead for potential trip hazards[3].

·         You’ll have more energy. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which can mitigate pain and give you a sense of well-being. Those endorphins do a lot of things, including fighting against stress hormones, promoting healthy sleep, and giving you more energy[4]. The National Institute on Aging recommends exercise for older adults as a way to battle fatigue.

·         It fights cognitive decline. A study in the Comprehensive Physiology journal found that exercise on a regular basis improves cognitive health; the Alzheimer’s Association reported that regular exercise reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s or dementia by almost 50%. Simply getting 30 minutes of exercise three or four times a week is enough to make a difference.

·         It improves mobility. Mobility refers to the range of motion you have in your joints. The more mobile you are, the more likely you will be able to avoid falls and maintain better coordination. The better your mobility, the less pain you might feel, the easier it will be for you to move, walk, and reach for things, and it might even improve your flexibility as well (which is about increasing the length of your muscles)[5].

·         You’ll be more independent. The more you move, the easier it becomes as your strength and stamina increase. That means that regular exercise promotes the ease of doing everyday things. This can include ease with bathing, walking, dressing, eating, and even using the restroom. These things will help you stay independent for longer, which can make it easier if aging in place is your goal[6].

·         You’ll be happier. Countless studies have shown that regular exercise can have a significant impact on reducing anxiety and depression. It can ease ADHD symptoms and relieve stress. It boosts your overall mood as well[7]. That means that even a little bit of exercise can make you feel better, happier, and more content. Who wouldn’t benefit from that uplift?

The Best Exercises for Seniors

First, the most important part: Always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen. Your physician can guide you to the best options for you.

Here are some of the best exercises for seniors:

1.       Water aerobics. If you’re looking for a low-impact exercise that will keep your joints supple and provide more flexibility, this is the one for you. The buoyancy of the water alleviates stress on the joints, which can be ideal for those who suffer from painful joint ailments, like arthritis. The natural resistance of water makes it easy to exercise without the need for any equipment. Many classes are designed specifically for seniors, so you have the added bonus of making new friends!

2.       Resistance bands. These are stretchy strips of rubber, usually quite colorful and fun, that can give you more resistance during workouts without the need for bulky equipment or extra physical stress. The bands are relatively cheap and can be used in a variety of ways. Perhaps the best part is that you can choose the intensity – use the very stretchy bands at first and then work your way up to more challenging exercises. Resistance bands are great for strengthening your core, which leads to better balance and mobility, which leads to a lower risk of falls.

3.       Walking. Though it sounds like the simplest possible exercise – and it might be – walking brings a wealth of benefits. You might often hear the recommendation of 10,000 steps per day. That can be tough for many, especially those who have joint pain or other difficulties with walking. Instead, set a reasonable goal that feels attainable, and then increase those goals over time. Walking strengthens muscles while lowering your risks of many chronic diseases and problems, such as diabetes, colon cancer, stroke, and heart disease[8].

4.       Pilates. If you’re looking to improve balance, increase flexibility and boost core strength, these exercises might work very well. Pilates not only focuses on the body, but on breathing, concentration, and aligning the body properly. You might use mats, balls, and other accessories to find that alignment. Pilates can also be a low-impact exercise.

5.       Body weight workouts. If you are experiencing muscle loss like a third of seniors do, you might have other problems as well, such as issues with hormones and metabolism[9]. These workouts use your own body weight as the “equipment” to help counter muscle atrophy. These workouts are usually quite simple, such as squats or stepping.

6.       Using dumbbells. These exercises make use of hand weights. You can start with the lowest weight that feels comfortable with repetition. Strength training can improve many areas of physical health, such as promoting better glucose control, alleviating the symptoms of diabetes, helping you beat back pain and osteoporosis, and improving your mood. It can also help with balance and flexibility, which is vitally important for seniors and helps to prevent falling[10].

As we get older, many of us have to take certain precautions to protect our health. Increasing exercise is one way to do that, as well as eating healthier meals, staying socially active, and keeping our homes tidy and safe. But just as there are some things we should do to protect our health, there are also some things we should not do – and some of those include exercises that might be harmful or dangerous—which is why you should always consult your doctor before attempting a new exercise routine.

One Key Component of a Healthy Exercise Regimen

Finally, remember that before you begin any sort of exercise, take the time to stretch your body gently and slowly. Senior health advisors point out that you want to “warm up” a bit before jumping right into any sort of exercise, even if it’s a careful form of chair stretching or swimming. Preparing your body can help with flexibility, protect your joints, and make you feel stronger, even before you start on your exercises for the day. And remember to always wear your medical alert device when performing any sort of exercise.

Wishing you health and happiness from Alert1!