Easy At-Home Exercises for Seniors
Health experts have differing opinions on what the best exercises are, but the consensus is that some of the best exercises are any exercises you can do. The most challenging part of starting an exercise regime is getting started.
Exercise is beneficial for people of all ages, but it can provide significant senior health benefits. Some of the benefits of exercise for seniors include:
- Maintain muscle definition
- Increase blood flow
- Improve core strength
- Maintain balance
- Improve posture
- Help to relieve symptoms of arthritis
The optimal number of reps for most exercises is 10, but you may want to start at 2 or 3. From there, you can increase your number of repetitions. Some of the best exercises for seniors include balancing exercises, which can help prevent falls. You may have certain fitness goals aside from the number of repetitions, such as keeping a steady heart rate.
Note*: If you are an adult over 60 it is recommended to consult your doctor before starting an exercise regimen.
What Exercises Are Best for Seniors?
Some of the best exercises are the ones that you can do at home. Learn more about simple activities you can do while you are waiting for your laundry, coffee, or whatever’s in the microwave to be done:
Rock the Boat
- Spread your feet hip-distance apart
- Lift up your arms and extend them to your sides
- Raise your right foot and bend your knee
- Maintain this position for 30 seconds
- Switch legs
- Repeat move three times
- Spread your feet hip-width apart
- Shift your weight onto your left foot
- Raise your left foot. Support yourself on a wall, table or counter if necessary to help balance yourself.
- Hold this position for up to 30 seconds
- Switch to opposite leg
- Repeat move three times
- Stand arm’s length from the kitchen counter.
- Place your hands on the edge of the counter, a little more than shoulder-width apart, and raise your heels, so you’re on the balls of your feet.
- Slowly bend your elbows out and allow your chest to move toward the counter, then push yourself back.
- Try to keep your abdominal muscles tight for extra benefit.
- Standing at the counter for balance,
- Slowly lift your heels as high as you can so you’re on the balls of your feet.
3. Pause for a few seconds, then lower your feet.
- Stand with your feet slightly apart, holding the counter for balance if you need to
- Step out to the right and bend your right knee, keeping your left leg straight
- Repeat on the left, keeping your right leg straight
- Stand with your feet slightly apart.
- Place your hands behind your head, fingers laced together, and elbows out.
- Raise your right knee and twist your waist to the right, bringing your left elbow to meet the knee.
- Repeat with your left knee and right elbow.
- Stand with legs straight and feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Slowly bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor or as close as you can get, and pause there.
- Then, with weight on your heels — not the balls of your feet — press your legs straight up again.
- Stand in front of a footstool, trash can, or another low object – again, balancing with a hand on the counter if you need to.
- Tap one foot on the thing, then the other, alternating at a comfortable speed.
- First, hold the counter for balance, feet about hip-width apart.
- Bend your right knee to lift your lower leg to your butt. Repeat up to 10 times, and do the same with the left knee.
Ready to move out of the kitchen? Here are a few you can do while watching TV (or during commercials):
- Sit on the edge of the couch or a chair, feet on the floor.
- Press your hands together in front of your chest as intensely as you can for 30-60 seconds or as long as you are able.
- Sit on the edge of a chair or the couch, hands facing forward beside your hips.
- Bracing yourself with your hands, inch your feet out to move your hips off the chair, so your weight is on your arms.
- Drop your hips, bending your elbows, and lift again, up to 10 times.
- Facing a couch or sturdy chair, place your hands on the seat, arms straight, and walk your legs back until your body is in a straight line.
- Next, push your heels down to the floor.
- Hold that plank position for up to 10 seconds, then alternate lifting your left and right knees to your chest.
- Repeat for 30-60 seconds – about the length of a commercial or two.
- Stand straight against a wall.
- Walk your feet out about a foot, and allow your body to slide down, back pressed against the wall, until you’re in a sitting position, thighs parallel to the floor or as close as you can comfortably reach.
- Pause here for 30-60 seconds if you can, then walk your feet in as you slide back up.
Remember, the goal is not necessarily lots of reps or level of difficulty. Instead, it’s moving your muscles regularly, even once (or twice) a week. “The No. 1 principle is to start doing something and continue doing it — that’s probably where 80 percent of the health benefits come from,” says Greg Nuckols, founder of strongerbyscience.com.
Additional Exercise Tips:
- Limited Mobility: If you have an injury or condition that makes activity difficult, you can still exercise. Here is a 4-minute video of seated stretching exercises led by fitness expert Naomi Gilbert
- Take it Up a Notch: If you’re interested in exercise that’s a little more focused, here are 10-minute, instructor-led exercise videos on AARP.org that target your core, abs, and arms
- Free Classes Online: Silver Sneakers, Gold’s Gym, and The National Institute on Aging (NIA) offer free, on-demand exercise videos. The YMCA also offers tai chi and yoga, while Gold’s has virtual classes for people of all ages and fitness levels. The NIA’s Go4Life exercise series focus is on stretching and building strength and balance
Please note: The information in this article is provided as an educational resource and should not be used as a substitute for professional expertise, diagnosis, and treatment regarding a specific medical condition. Please consult your healthcare provider before making any decisions regarding dietary or lifestyle changes, or doing any physical exercises. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by grief or depression, contact a mental health professional.
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