Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise prevents health problems, builds strength, boosts energy, and can help you reduce stress. It can also help you maintain a healthy body weight and curb your appetite. People who exercise tend to have improved immune and digestive functioning, better blood pressure and bone density, and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers. Enhances mobility, flexibility, and balance. Let’s explore what are the best home exercises for seniors.
A recent Swedish study found that physical activity was the number one contributor to longevity, adding extra years to your life, even if you don’t start exercising until your senior years. But getting active is not just about adding years to your life, it’s about adding life to your years. Getting moving can help boost your energy, maintain your independence, protect your heart, and manage symptoms of illness or pain as well as your weight. Regular exercise is also good for your mind, mood, and memory. Everyone can benefit from physical activity. For most people, it is possible to begin exercising on your own at a slow pace.
1. How much exercise do I need?
Seniors age 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. A good goal is to exercise 5 times a week for at least 30 minutes each time. However, most people need to start gradually. Start by exercising 2 or 3 times a week for 20 minutes at a time.
Once you feel comfortable, slowly increase the amount of time and the number of days a week that you exercise.How hard do I have to exercise to gain health benefits? Even small amounts of exercise are better than none at all. Start with an activity you enjoy and can do comfortably. Learn to take your pulse and calculate your target heart rate (about 80% of your “maximum heart rate”). As you become used to exercising, try to exercise within your target heart rate zone so that you get the most benefit.
Health experts advise that regular exercise for seniors offers great benefits, including extending lifespan. According to the National Institute for Ageing, exercise is good for people of any age and can ease symptoms of many chronic conditions. It helps you maintain or lose weight. As metabolism naturally slows with age, maintaining a healthy weight is a challenge. Exercise helps increase metabolism and builds muscle mass, helping to burn more calories. Reduces the impact of illness and chronic disease.
People who exercise tend to have improved immune and digestive functioning, better blood pressure and bone density, and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers. Enhances mobility, flexibility, and balance. Exercise improves your strength, flexibility and posture, which in turn will help with balance, coordination, and reducing the risk of falls. Strength training also helps alleviate the symptoms of chronic conditions such as arthritis.
Improves sleep. Quality sleep is vital for your overall health. Regular activity can help you fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply, and wake feeling more energetic and refreshed. Boosts mood and self-confidence. Exercise is a huge stress reliever and the endorphins produced can actually help reduce feelings of sadness, depression, or anxiety. Being active and feeling strong naturally helps you feel more self-confident.
Does amazing things for the brain. Activities like Sudoku or crossword puzzles can help keep your brain active, but little comes close to the beneficial effects of exercise on the brain. It can help brain functions as diverse as multitasking and creativity and can help prevent memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia. Getting active may even help slow the progression of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Starting or maintaining a regular exercise routine can be a challenge at any age—and it doesn’t get any easier as you get older. You may feel discouraged by health problems, aches and pains, or concerns about injuries or falls. If you’ve never exercised before, you may not know where to begin, or perhaps you think you’re too old or frail, and can never live up to the standards you set when you were younger. Or maybe you just think that exercise is boring.
While these may seem like good reasons to slow down and take it easy as you age, they’re even better reasons to get moving. Becoming more active can energize your mood, relieve stress, help you manage symptoms of illness and pain, and improve your overall sense of well-being. And reaping the rewards of exercise doesn’t have to involve strenuous workouts or trips to the gym. You can gain the benefits of adding more movement and activity to your life, even in small ways. No matter your age or physical condition, it’s never too late to get your body moving, boost your health and outlook, and improve how you age. Listed below are the best at-home exercises for seniors.
The ability to stand on one leg is important. When walking, you spend about 40% of your time with one foot on the ground as the opposite leg is moving through the air. Researchers have found struggling to balance on one leg for 20 seconds or longer is linked to an increased risk of small blood vessel damage in the brain and reduced thinking ability in otherwise healthy people with no clinical symptoms. The maximum time for keeping the leg raised was 60 seconds.
The single-leg stance is a simple, but very effective exercise for improving balance. It’s best to start off with a simple balance exercise for seniors. Here’s how you do this one: stand behind a steady, solid chair (not one with wheels), and hold on to the back of it. Lift up your right foot and balance on your left foot. Hold that position for as long as you can, then switch feet. The goal should be to stand on one foot without holding onto the chair and hold that pose for up to a minute.
You might read this and wonder, “How is walking an exercise to improve balance?” This exercise makes your legs stronger, which enables you to walk without falling. The benefit of walking this way is that it activates the string of muscles in your foot and minimizes impact on the bones in your heels and ankles. Instructions for walking Hell to toe: Put your right foot in front of your left foot so that the heel of your right foot touches the top of the toes of your left foot. Move your left foot in front of your right, putting your weight on your heel. Then, shift your weight to your toes. Repeat the step with your left foot. Walk this way for 20 steps.
Instruction for Rock the boat: Stand with your feet apart, so that the space between them is the same width as your hips. Make sure both feet are pressed into the ground firmly. Stand straight, with your head level. Then, transfer your weight to your right foot and slowly lift your left leg off the ground. Hold that position for as long as possible (but no more than 30 seconds). Slowly put your foot back onto the ground, then transfer your weight to that foot. Slowly lift your opposite leg. Start by doing this exercise for balance five times per side, then work your way up to more repetitions.
Clock reach helps improve your static or standing balance. It also strengthens your ankles and hip muscles while adding to your shoulder and upper body range of motion. Good balance is important for seniors. It requires the ability to keep your center of gravity over your ankles when standing. Thus helping to avoid falling. You’ll need a chair for this exercise. Imagine that you are standing in the center of a clock.
The number 12 is directly in front of you and the number 6 is directly behind you. Hold the chair with your left hand. Lift your right leg and extend your right arm so it’s pointing to the number 12. Next, point your arm towards the number three, and finally, point it behind you at number 6. Bring your arm back to number three, and then to the number 12. Look straight ahead the whole time. Repeat this exercise twice per side.
The ability to stand on one leg is important. When walking, you spend about 40% of your time with one foot on the ground as the opposite leg is moving through the air. Falls in the elderly occur with 35% to 45% of seniors each year. This is generally due to age-related declines in our reaction times. The single-leg stance is a simple, but very effective exercise for improving balance.
This balance exercise for seniors improves your physical coordination. Stand with your feet together and arms at your side next to a chair. Lift your left hand over your head. Then, slowly raise your left foot off the floor. Hold that position for ten seconds. Repeat the same action on the right side.
side leg lifts work your abs, including those hard to reach obliques. Lifting your legs engages your inner thighs and buttocks while keeping your abdominal muscles pulled in and up develops core strength and improves balance. you’ll need a chair for this exercise to improve balance. As well as working your lower abs, the leg raise also improves the strength and flexibility of your hips and lower back, which is a considerable benefit for anyone who spends a lot of time sitting.
Side leg raises: Stand behind the chair with your feet slightly apart. Slowly lift your right leg to the side. Keep your back straight, your toe facing forward, and stare straight ahead. Lower your right leg slowly. Repeat this exercise ten to 15 times per leg. A common mistake with leg lifts is allowing the lower back to arch too much. This strains the back and makes the move much less effective as an abdominal exercise. If you don’t keep your back muscles and abs contracted, you’re only working your hip flexors. Back leg raise: This strength training exercise for seniors makes your bottom and your lower back stronger. Stand behind a chair. Slowly lift your right leg straight back – don’t bend your knees or point your toes. Hold that position for one second, then gently bring your leg back down. Repeat this ten to 15 times per leg.
This balance exercise for seniors can be performed while seated. You’ll need a cane or some kind of stick. A broomstick works well for this – just remove the broom’s head before you start. The balancing wand exercise feels more like a game than a workout. All you need is a sturdy chair and a wand-like object that isn’t too heavy. Hold the bottom of the stick so that it’s flat on the palm of your hand. The goal of this exercise is to keep the stick upright for as long as possible. Change hands so that you work on your balance skills on both sides of your body.
Pushups work the upper body and this version allows you to gradually ease into pushups using a wall rather than doing them on the floor. Stand a few feet away from a wall or stair rail and tilt forward, back flat and abs in. As long as you’ve got a wall, you can do this strength training exercise for seniors. Stand an arm’s length in front of a wall that doesn’t have any paintings, decorations, windows or doors. Lean forward slightly and put your palms flat on the wall at the height and width of your shoulders.
Keep your feet planted as you slowly bring your body towards the wall. Gently push yourself back so that your arms are straight. Do twenty of these. Place your hands on the wall at chest level, wider than the shoulders. Pull the abs in and, keeping the back straight, bend elbows and lower body towards the wall until elbows are at 90-degree angles. Push back to start and repeat. The farther away from the wall you are, the harder the exercise. Make sure you don’t sag in the middle. Keep the abs tight and the back flat.
Marching in place is a great low-impact cardio option that requires minimal space. It is also a great balance exercise for seniors. If you need to hold onto something, do this exercise in front of a counter. Walking for fitness burns up to 300 calories per hour for a 155-pound person, according to Harvard Health Publishing, and is simple to do, even in the comfort of your bedroom. Walking in place is just as effective as walking on a track.
Believe it or not, walking in place is a great way to meet your step goals while burning extra calories and staying active throughout the day. Believe it or not, walking in place is a great way to meet your step goals while burning extra calories and staying active throughout the day. All you need is enough space to march, supportive shoes and comfortable clothing. Fewer than 1,000 steps a day is sedentary. 1,000 to 10,000 steps or about 4 miles a day is Lightly Active. 10,000 to 23,000 steps or 4 to 10 miles a day is considered Active. More than 23,000 steps or 10 miles a day is Highly active Standing straight, lift your right knee as high as you can. Lower it, then lift the left leg. Lift and lower your legs 20 times.
Toe raises or toe rise is used to strengthen the shin muscles the athlete raises the toes and forefoot up off the floor. Initially, this should be seated, before performing in a standing position and then on an incline with the toes lower than the heels. Toe raises are great workouts for improving strength and flexibility in the calf muscles. Perform toe raises with tips from a fitness trainer in this free video on lower body exercises. This strength training exercise for seniors also improves balance. You’ll need a chair or a counter. Stand straight and put your arms in front of you. Raise yourself up on your toes as high as you can go, then gently lower yourself. Don’t lean too far forward on the chair or counter. Lift and lower yourself 20 times.
Over time, this posture can take quite a toll on your neck and shoulder muscles. Fortunately, there are exercises you can do to relieve muscle tension in your neck, shoulders, and upper back. Shoulder shrugs are a popular choice of exercise for strengthening your shoulder muscles and upper arms too. The main muscles that shoulder shrugs target are the trapezius muscles.
These muscles are located on either side of your neck. They control the movement of your shoulder blades as well as your upper back and neck. This is a simple exercise for seniors. You can do it seated or standing. Rotate shoulders in a forward direction making big circles with them and then rotate them backward. Keep your back straight and breathe normally. This exercise is great for loosening up the shoulder muscles.
Hand and finger exercises can help strengthen your hands and fingers, increase your range of motion, and give you pain relief. Stretch only until you feel tightness. You shouldn’t feel pain. The following are exercises to improve flexibility. You don’t need to stand for these. In the first exercise, pretend there’s a wall in front of you. Your fingers will climb the wall until they’re above your head. While holding your arms above your head, wiggle your fingers for ten seconds. Then, walk them back down. During the second exercise, touch your hands while they’re behind your back. Reach for your left hand while your right hand is behind your back. Hold that position for ten seconds, then try with your other arm.
These strength training exercises for seniors can be performed sitting or standing. To do calf stretches while standing, find a wall with nothing on it. Stand facing the wall with your hands at eye level. Place your left leg behind your right leg. Keep your left heel on the floor and bend your right knee. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat two to four times per leg. If you want to stretch your calves while sitting, you’ll need a towel.
Sit on the floor with your legs straight. Put the towel around the soles of your right foot and hold both ends. Pull the towel towards you while keeping your knee straight and hold it for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat the exercise two to four times per leg. Lifeline has been helping seniors for decades, but remember that before embarking on an exercise regimen, please consult your doctor. Falls don’t have to be a fact of life – exercising can make you stronger and fitter. You don’t need fancy equipment, either – just pull up a chair!
Lunges are among the best leg exercises for seniors because they help target a wide range of muscles, especially in the hard-to-reach regions of the inner thigh. They are quite effective in terms of strengthening legs and buttocks. They target large muscle groups of your lower body. This boosts your metabolism and helps you lose weight much faster. When this excess fat is removed, lunges work on the shape and strength of your lower body.
To perform the assisted lunge, stand in a split stance, feet about 3 feet apart using a chair or wall for balance. Keeping torso straight, bend knees and lower body towards the floor without allowing front knee to bend over the toe (you should see the tip of your shoe). Push through the heel to come back up without locking the knees. Repeat for 1 set of 12 reps and then repeat the series with the other leg forward. If this bothers your knees, consider alternatives to lunges.
The bird-dog is a bodyweight floor exercise that strengthens the core—more specifically, the abdominal muscles, lower back, butt, and thighs. The bird dog is a simple core exercise that improves stability, encourages a neutral spine, and relieves low back pain. It strengthens your core, hips, and back muscles. It also promotes proper posture and increases range of motion. This allows for the correct movement, control, and stability of the whole body.
For the bird dog, begin on hands and knees with the back straight and the abs pulled in. Lift the right arm up until it is level with the body and, at the same time, lift the left leg up and straighten it until it is parallel to the floor. Hold for several seconds, lower and repeat on the other side, this time lifting the left arm and right leg.Continue alternating sides for 12 reps (1 rep includes both the right and left sides).
The Tricep Extension is an isolation movement that helps develop and strengthen the triceps, the muscles that run along the back of your upper arm. You can practice this exercise standing or sitting, for back support. This gives you that added resistance to strengthen this upper body muscle. The tricep extension, as the name suggests, strengthens the tricep muscle. This is the muscle in the back of the upper arm. It is a little-used muscle and can benefit from strength training.
To perform triceps extensions, sit on a ball or chair and hold a light-medium dumbbell or medicine in both hands (hold on the top of the weight) with arms extended overhead, elbows next to ears, arms straight. Bend elbows and slowly lower weight behind you until elbows are at 90 degrees—keep the elbows in and right next to ears. Contract the back of the arms to extend the arms.
Squats are a great exercise to strengthen and increase flexibility in your knees, calves, and glutes. Stand with feet wider than shoulders and place hands on an exercise ball. Roll the ball out as you bend your knees, lowering the hips into a squat. Let your body lean slightly forward and engage your abdominals as you bend your knees as though you’re sitting down. Hold for about five seconds, and then rise back up to your start position. Repeat eight to 10 times. Keep the abs in, the back straight and make sure you keep the knees behind the toes as you squat. Stand back up as you roll the ball in, squeezing the glutes (avoid locking the knees).
You can also try sitting behind a chair. A squat is a movement we do all day, getting up and down from chairs, in and out of our cars, and more. Practicing this move with good form will help you build strength in the hips, glutes, and thighs. Stand in front of a chair with feet about shoulder-width apart. Bend the knees. Send the hips back and the arms straight out in front of you to balance. Sit all the way down and, as soon as you make contact with the chair, stand back up. Try to stand up without rocking back or using momentum. Instead, put the weight on your heels and push into the floor to stand up.
Push-ups are very beneficial for seniors because they strengthen the shoulder joint and improve your upper body strength. While pushing strength is not as important for day to day actions as for example lower body and core strength, it is very useful for many tasks and protects you from injuries. Traditional pushups are beneficial for building upper body strength. They work the triceps, pectoral muscles, and shoulders.
When done with proper form, they can also strengthen the lower back and core by engaging (pulling in) the abdominal muscles. Pushups are a fast and effective exercise for building strength. Men who are 70 to 79 years old should be able to do six to nine push-ups and 10 to 14 sit-ups, while women in that age range should be able to perform four to 10 push-ups. Women of the same age should be able to do five to 10 push-ups.
Stand with feet about hip-width apart, holding medium dumbbells with the palms facing in. Squeeze the biceps to curl the weights towards the shoulders, keeping the elbows stationary. Slowly lower the weights, keeping a slight bend in the elbows at the bottom. Place left foot on a step or raised platform. You can also prop one knee on a weight bench. Hold a weight in the right hand and prop the left hand on the left thigh for support as you bend over (back flat and abs in), hanging the weight down towards the floor.
Squeeze the back to pull the elbow up in a rowing motion until it is level with the torso. You should feel your lats (the muscles on either side of your back) contracting. Lower the weight. For seated rotation: Sit with good posture holding a medium dumbbell in front of you. Keeping the abs contracted, rotate the torso to the right while keeping the hips and legs facing forward. Contract abs to bring the weight back to the center and then rotate to the left. Repeat for 12 reps.
Begin with a 5 to 10 minute warm-up of light cardio (walking in place, etc.). Perform each exercise as shown for 1 set, using no weight or light weights to get used to the exercises. Weights are suggested for each exercise but modify them according to your fitness level and goals. Focus on your form, at first. It’s better to go light on the weights in the beginning. To progress, add a set each week until you’re doing a total of 3 sets of each exercise with 30 seconds of rest in between each set. Do this workout one or two nonconsecutive days a week, taking at least one day of rest between workouts. If you do feel very sore, give yourself extra rest days as needed and back off during the next workout.
This move is great for working on upper body endurance as well as balance and stability.
Hold a light weight or medicine ball (2 to 5 pounds) in both hands, straight up over your head.
Lift the right knee up to waist level while bringing the arms down, touching the weight or the ball to the knee.
Lower the right knee and take the ball all the way up.
Now lift the left knee to hip level, bringing the ball down to the knee.
Return to start and repeat, alternating sides.
Continue for 30 to 60 seconds.
If you have back or knee problems, you may want to avoid the upper body portion of the move and just do the knee lifts.
The “chest squeeze”helps to strengthen the upper body, including the chest and arms.Sit on a chair, back straight and abs in. Hold a medicine ball or weight at chest level. Suggested weight: 4 to 6 pounds. Hold the weight so that the elbows are bent and out to the sides and you’re putting even tension on the ball with both hands, squeezing the chest. Holding that tension, slowly push the ball straight out in front of you at chest level until the elbows are straight. Continue keeping tension on the ball. It should feel harder the farther out you go. Bend the elbows and pull the ball back to your chest.
This move improves your balance as well as strengthening both legs. This can be done both standing and sitting. If you are standing, your leg has to use more stabilizer muscles to keep your body stable and the lifting leg helps you build strength in the hips and glutes. You can use a resistance band around the ankles for more intensity or do it without any resistance.
Stand sideways to a chair or wall for support and tie a resistance band around your ankles (optional). You can also use light ankle weights as well, 1 to 5 pounds.
Shift the weight into the right leg and lift the left leg out to the side, foot flexed and hips, knees and feet in alignment. The toes should be facing the front of the room.
Try to lift the leg without tilting at the torso—hold the torso upright as you lift the leg a few inches off the ground.
Lower back down and repeat for 12 reps on each leg.
This exercise strengthens your biceps, muscles that you use every day when you carry things, open doors, or pick things up. Stand with feet about hip-width apart and hold dumbbells in each hand. Suggested weight: 5 to 8 pounds for women, 8 to 15 pounds for men. Alternatively, you can use a kettlebell as shown. With your palms facing out, contract the biceps and curl the weight up towards your shoulder. Try not to move the elbow as you curl the weights up. Lower the weight back down, but keep a slight bend in the elbow at the bottom. Don’t swing the weight and keep the elbows static as you curl the weights.
This exercise strengthens the muscles that support the knee. If you have knee problems or this bothers you, you might want to skip this exercise. You can do this exercise on a staircase with rails or on a step if you have one. If you’re on a staircase, stand at the bottom step and step up with your right foot. Bring your left foot up onto the stair next to your right and then step back down on the floor (hold onto a rail if you need to). Keep your right foot on the step the entire time as you step up and down with the left foot. Do 12 reps on that foot and then switch, keeping your left foot on the step as you step up with the right leg.
This exercise works the shoulder muscles that you use every time you lift something or put something on a shelf. Stand with the feet hip-width apart and hold weights in both hands at your sides. Suggested weight: 3 to 8 pounds for women, 5 to 12 pounds for men. Keeping a slight bend in the elbows and the wrists straight, lift the arms up to the sides. Stop at shoulder level with your palms facing the floor.
Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise prevents health problems, builds strength, boosts energy, and can help you reduce stress. It can also help you maintain a healthy body weight. It can also be an enjoyable way to stay healthy and active.