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Easy Exercises for Seniors

Written by OurParents Staff
 about the author
4 minute readLast updated April 3, 2023

Although the idea of getting in several hours of exercise in a week may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Encourage your loved one to start slowly and incorporate short, 10-minute intervals throughout the day. These easy exercise ideas incorporate things they already do, such as climbing the stairs or working in the yard. For strength training, seniors can take advantage of modified exercises, such as chair yoga.

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Why exercise is important for older adults

Doctors agree and statistics show that staying active is good for your mind and body. Even as we age, it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle that incorporates physical activity. It can help prevent health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis, as well as support mobility, balance, and overall independence. Not to mention, exercise can also be a great mood booster and help fight depression.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that adults ages 65 and older get at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 1 hour and 15 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity per week. If these amounts sound daunting, remember that any activity that elevates your heartbeat counts towards these totals – from a brisk walk to pushing a lawn mower. Seniors can also get their recommended activity in 10-minute increments throughout their week.
In addition to aerobic exercise, the CDC also recommends at least two days of strength-building exercises a week for muscles throughout the body. If your loved one is looking for a place to start, encourage them to try the following activities to meet their weekly quotas!

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Aerobic exercises for seniors

Your loved one should start slow. It’s best to begin with exercising for at least 10 minutes at a time and work up to 30-minute workouts. They should be breathing harder but still able to talk.
Activities to get their heart pumping include:
  • Walking the dog or taking a brisk walk with a friend or neighbor
  • Raking leaves or working in the yard
  • Swimming or taking a water aerobics class
  • Dancing or participating in a dance aerobics class like Zumba
  • Playing with grandchildren
  • Riding a bike, either outdoors or on a stationary cycle
  • Climbing stairs

Strength exercises for seniors

Your loved one should start with two days a week, and build up to more frequent strength training sessions. The great news is there are many ways to build strength without having to go to a gym.
  • Small hand weights or dumbbells can be found at the local superstore and are a good investment for at-home strength training. If your loved one doesn’t own weights, they can use heavier canned items in their pantry. They should work both upper- and lower-body muscles with a routine like this one.
  • Bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats, and sit-ups are classics for a reason. If your loved one needs lower-impact options or has difficulty getting down or up off the floor, encourage them to try modifications like a wall push-up.
  • Heavier outdoor activities like digging holes or shoveling snow can help a senior work up a sweat while tackling chores on their to-do list.
  • Combining strength and balance exercises is great for preventing falls. This is part of what makes yoga ideal for seniors. There are also some great chair yoga workouts on YouTube, which are done entirely in a seated position and usually don’t require any special equipment.
  • Resistance bands can help your loved one target specific muscle groups. These rubber tubes with handles are lightweight and easy to use and to store.

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Stretching for seniors

You’ve probably heard that it’s important to spend at least five minutes stretching before and after exercising, but for seniors, a dedicated time to stretch twice a week can make a big difference in mobility and comfort. Each exercise should be held for 20 to 30 seconds and repeated between three and five times. You can find many great examples of flexibility exercises online, as well as on YouTube.
As always, it’s very important for your loved one to check with their doctor before starting a new exercise regimen, and to take things slowly, especially if it’s been a while since they’ve exercised regularly. Before you know it, they’ll be in a regular routine and reaping the benefits of being active.


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OurParents Staff

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