Our Review Process
Our articles undergo extensive medical review by board-certified practitioners to confirm that all factual inferences with respect to medical conditions, symptoms, treatments, and protocols are legitimate, canonical, and adhere to current guidelines and the latest discoveries. Read more.
Our Editorial Team
Shifa Fatima, MSc.
Dr. Apoorva T, MHM.
Best Fitness Exercise for Senior Citizens
Exercise should be a part of everyone’s routine, but seniors should pay extra attention to it. Because as we age, our body undergoes natural changes that eventually impact our physical and mental health. Staying active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help seniors’ lead better lives.
Whether you are a senior citizen ready to level up your overall health or a caregiver looking for the best ways to improve a senior’s fitness levels, this article is all you need to move in the right direction. This article features exercises for elderly that seniors can perform without worry. We’ve also covered exercises that seniors should avoid to prevent potential injuries. So make sure you read until the end.
Table of Contents
Why is Exercise Important for Senior Citizens?
Regular exercise for old people is as essential as eating nutritious meals. It helps the elderly maintain healthy physical levels and mental well-being. With the right exercise for seniors, the elderly can maintain their body balance, strength, and flexibility. It significantly reduces the chances of falls and other injuries that would otherwise be common. Regular exercise allows senior citizens to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and more.
Additionally, a well-designed workout routine for seniors can also help improve cognitive functions, improve their quality of life, and help them easily maintain their independence. A comprehensive exercise routine would include a combination of knee exercises for elderly, dynamic balance exercises for seniors, best stretching exercises for seniors, and more. We’d suggest getting a personalized workout designed by a professional fitness trainer based on individual health conditions for the best results.
What are the Health Benefits of Exercise in Senior Citizens?
Physical activities like exercising give incredible health benefits at all ages, but the health perks enjoyed by physically active senior citizens are more notable. Maintaining elderly fitness levels can help seniors lead a healthy, longer, and joyous life. Whether you perform exercises related to balance training for seniors, knee osteoarthritis exercises for elderly, or any other easy exercises for seniors, it can help you enjoy the following health benefits.
The elderly with poor activity levels tend to depend on others for basic activities like walking, cooking, bathing, eating, dressing, etc. But the dependence can be removed by maintaining healthy fitness levels. Older people exercising regularly don’t have to depend on others for such functions. Exercising is the best way to eliminate dependence if you want to live independently in your senior years.
Improved Body Balance
Falling due to improper body balance is a common occurrence among the elderly around the world. It should be noted that falling is a big deal for the elderly than it is for young adults because the former can face severe fall-related injuries. Exercise for balance helps senior citizens in reducing the risk of falling and the associated injuries.
Enhanced Energy Levels
It might appear counter-intuitive, but being physically inactive can make you tired and vice-versa. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins. These are neurotransmitters linked to a sense of well-being and pain mitigation. They even combat stress, promote healthy sleep cycles, and make you energetic and lively. You can do some easy senior fitness workouts to boost your energy levels.
Better Brain Function
Our mind and body are closely linked, so a healthy body will promote a healthy mind and vice-versa. Seniors that exercise regularly will have better cognitive functions, and their likelihood of developing diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia will be significantly lower than physically inactive seniors. To improve brain function, seniors can join a gym for elderly or do some basic exercise for senior citizens at home.
Prevents & Counteracts Diseases
Diabetes, cardiovascular problems, depression, and osteoporosis are common diseases among senior citizens. If you are physically inactive, you can develop the symptoms of these diseases faster than others. But with regular exercise and physical activities, your body can become capable of fighting these symptoms. If you want to reduce disease risks, practicing even simple exercises for seniors to improve balance, strength, and flexibility can help.
If you can regularly do easy exercises for seniors, you can experience all these health benefits.
Best Exercises for Senior Citizens
Now that you’re aware of the benefits of doing exercises for older adults, it’s time to learn about the best senior workouts you can do at home. We have shared some easy yet effective exercises to improve fitness for seniors.
Bridge exercise can be helpful if you face difficulty getting up from bed, standing, walking, etc. This simple floor exercise targets your gluteal muscles and hip flexor muscles. Follow the below-mentioned steps to do this exercise.
- Lie flat on a mat with both your feet flat and knees bent.
- Gently raise your hips, holding the position for 3 to 5 seconds.
- Now lower the hips to get back to the original position.
Repeat these steps at least ten times.
Hip Flexor Stretch
You must include this exercise in your regular workout routine for seniors. This exercise targets the hip flexor muscles that are located in front of your hip joint, helping them improve flexibility and strength. You can perform this exercise following the below-mentioned steps.
- Lie comfortably on your bed with one leg hanging off the bed and the other on the bed.
- Gently raise the leg you’ve placed on the bed and bring it close to your chest.
- Hold this position till you feel a stretch in your front hip and thighs of the hanging leg. The position can be held for 30 seconds.
- Return to the original starting position and repeat the same steps with the other leg.
You can perform this exercise at least 5 times with each leg.
Pec Stretch at the Wall
It is the easiest exercise for senior citizens to improve flexibility. It targets the pectoral muscles by slightly stretching them. You can follow the below-mentioned steps to perform this flexibility exercise.
- Stand in a doorway, holding your right arm at shoulder height and its forearm and right hand on the wall next to the door.
- Now gently turn the torso away from your arm to feel a stretch in your pectoral or chest muscles of that side.
- Hold this stretch position for 30 seconds before returning to the original position.
Repeat this exercise at least 3 to 5 times.
Sit to Stand
This simple exercise aims to improve the overall strength and mobility of your hip and leg muscles by targeting the hamstrings, gluteal muscles, and quadriceps. It is beneficial for seniors who have difficulty getting up from a low couch, toilet, etc. Follow the below-mentioned steps to perform this exercise.
- Sit on a medium to high-length chair that doesn’t require you to use both your hands to rise.
- When ready, gently stand up and sit back.
Repeat this at least 10 times. If the chair is too high, place two cushions on the chair to create a higher surface. You can also place another chair in front for safety purposes.
Back Leg Raises
This exercise helps your body support good posture by targeting your lower back muscles and glutes. You can perform this exercise by following the below-mentioned steps.
- Place both hands on the wall
- Shift your body weight onto the right foot while gently raising the left foot backward and as high as possible.
- Hold this position for at least 5 seconds before returning to the original position.
- Follow the same steps with the opposite foot.
You can repeat this exercise at least 10 times.
In addition to these exercises, you can include brisk walking, cycling, and dancing in your daily workout routine.
One of the best and effective ways to strengthen your arm, chest, and shoulder muscles is by performing wall pushups. You can follow the below-mentioned steps to perform wall pushups.
- Stand 3 feet away from a wall. To get in the starting position, face the wall and keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Now gently lean toward the wall, placing your hands flat on the wall. Your two hands should be in line with the shoulders. While leaning toward the wall, your body should be in a plank position, and your spine should not be arched or sagging.
- Lower your body as you lean toward the wall and then push back.
Repeat the same steps to do wall pushups at least 10 times.
Knee Extension Stretch
Targeting the hamstrings and quadriceps, knee extension stretch helps improve your ability to straighten your knees during walking. It even helps reduce lower back pain in seniors. You can follow the below-mentioned steps to perform this exercise.
- Sit upright on a chair while placing one leg heel on a low stool in front of you.
- Slowly lean forward as you hinge at your hips, so you can feel a gentle stretch in the back of your knees.
- Keep this stretch position for a minute before switching the legs and repeating the same steps.
Do at least 10 repetitions with each leg. You can also do 2-3 sets if your body allows it.
Exercises Senior Citizens Should Avoid
Whether you’re designing a workout plan comprising balance exercises for elderly, knee exercises for elderly, etc., remember to exclude specific exercises because of their high potential for body injuries. Senior citizens should avoid the following exercises:
- Any high-impact exercises like running or jumping should be avoided by seniors, at least in the beginning stage. These exercises can strain your joints excessively, increasing the risk of falls and body injuries.
- Care should be taken while doing exercises like crunches, they should be done gently or under supervision as they can strain your back excessively, increasing the chances of back injury.
- Heavy weightlifting exercises that put extra strain on joints and muscles should be avoided.
- Seniors should avoid exercises requiring a lot of coordination and balance on unstable surfaces.
- High-intensity workouts like exercising on a CrossFit or intense cardio workouts should be avoided as they can be too strenuous for some seniors.
The elderly should start with low-intensity workouts appropriate for their fitness levels and abilities. Talking to a healthcare provider can help you design a safe yet effective workout routine.
Improve Fitness Levels with Exercises Ideal for Seniors
It’s never too late to begin a fitness journey. If you are a senior citizen who wants to lead an independent and healthy life, it’s an excellent idea to start exercising. The more physically active you become, the better will be your physical and mental health. However, we recommend choosing exercises based on your current fitness levels to prevent any injury risk. Talk to a professional fitness trainer or healthcare provider that can help you design a personalized workout routine based on your health condition. Alternatively, you can start with the exercises featured in this article if you’re just starting. These simple, safe, and effective exercises will help you begin your fitness journey today.
How Many Steps Should a 75-Year Old Walk Per Day?
Healthy older adults generally walk 2,000 to 9,000 steps a day. To maintain good health, adults aged 65 and above are advised to walk at least 150 minutes a week. It can be translated to 30 minutes a day walking 5 days a week. Brisk walking is a moderate-intensity activity that can help seniors stay fit.
What is the Most Common Form of Exercise Among Seniors?
Brisk walking is the most common form of exercise among seniors. Older adults with better health conditions also practice basic back stretch exercises, ankle stretches, leg stretches, and inner thigh stretches. If you are switching to an active lifestyle in your senior years, start with moderate-intensity walking. You can later add advanced exercises as your body gets prepared for them.
How Much Sleep do Seniors Need?
Seniors need the same amount of sleep as other adults. An uninterrupted sleep of 7 to 9 hours is enough for seniors to rejuvenate and feel fresh the next day. If you are getting less than 7 hours of sleep, you can take the help of organic sleep supplements to get the required quality sleep.
Is it Better to Walk Faster or Longer?
Walking slowly for a longer period is the key. A long walk taken slowly can help build endurance, helping your body cover a longer distance over a period. A long and slow walk can take time, but it will lower your risk of injury. It even provides the same health benefits you get from walking faster.
This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.