Easy Exercises for Seniors
Doctors agree and statistics show, 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 certain diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis, as well as support mobility 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 65+ years old get at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week, or 1 hour and 15 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity. 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 – and you can get your recommended activity in 10-minute increments throughout your week.
In addition to aerobic exercise, the CDC also recommends at least two days of strength-building exercises a week for muscles throughout your body. This could include lifting weights, resistance exercises like push-ups or sit-ups, or even daily activities like heavier yard work or low-impact activities that help improve balance and flexibility, like yoga.
If you’re looking for a place to start, try out these activities to meet your weekly quotas!
Easy Aerobic Exercises for Seniors:
Start with exercising for at least 10 minutes at a time, and work to build up to 30-minute workouts. You should be breathing harder, but still able to talk. Activities to get your heart pumping include:
- Walking the dog or taking a brisk walk with a friend or neighbor.
- Raking leaves or working in your yard.
- Swimming or taking a water aerobics class at your local YMCA.
- Dancing or participating in a dance aerobics class like Zumba.
- Playing with your grandchildren; chase them around the playground or kick the soccer ball.
- Riding a bike, either outdoors or on a stationary cycle.
- Climbing stairs.
Easy Strength Exercises for Seniors:
Start with two days a week, and build up to more frequent strength sessions. The great news is there are many ways to build strength without having to go to a gym.
- Invest in small hand weights or dumbbells that can be found at your local superstore, or you can even use heavier canned items in your pantry. Make sure to work both upper- and lower-body muscles with a routine like this one.
- Try out bodyweight exercises, like push-ups, squats, and sit-ups. For lower impact or if you have difficulty getting down or up off the floor, try modifications like a wall push-up.
- Participate in heavier outdoor activities, like digging holes or shoveling snow.
- Combine strength with balance and flexibility by trying out yoga moves ideal for seniors. There are also some great YouTube workouts featuring Chair Yoga, done entirely from a seated position.
- Utilize resistance bands to target your muscle groups. These rubber tubes with handles are lightweight, easy to use and to store, and can help you target your major muscles groups. This 20-minute workout can be done while sitting in a chair.
- Practice balance exercises to help prevent falls and injury
Don’t forget to stretch!
You’ve probably heard that it’s important to spend at least 5 minutes stretching before and after exercising, but for seniors, a dedicated time to stretch 2-3 times a week can make a big difference in mobility and comfort. It’s a good idea to aim to perform stretching exercises 2-3 times a week. Each exercise should be held for 20-30 seconds (take special care not to hold your breath) and repeated 3-5 times. You can find many great examples of flexibility exercises online, as well as on YouTube.
As always, it’s very important to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise regime, and to take things slowly, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve exercised regularly. Before you know it, you’ll be in a regular routine and reaping the benefits of being active.