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10 easy exercises for seniors to stay active

By Jake Beardslee · November 16, 2023

In brief…

  • Walking, water aerobics, chair yoga and swimming are gentle on joints.
  • Strength training, tai chi, and stretching build muscle and improve balance.
  • Dancing, gardening, and seated exercises are accessible for any mobility level.
  • The CDC advises 150 minutes of moderate exercise and 2 days of muscle strengthening per week.
Low-impact physical activities can help older adults maintain health and independence.  Pasja1000/Pixabay

Staying active is important at any age, but for seniors it’s crucial for maintaining strength, health, and independence. Many exercises that stress the joints can become too painful or difficult as we get older. Low-impact activities are the way to go. Here are 10 easy exercises for seniors to stay active.

  1. Walking - Going for regular walks, whether outdoors or at the mall, is a simple way to keep moving. Start slow and work up to 30 minutes per day.

  2. Water Aerobics - Doing aerobics in a warm water pool lets you move with less pain and strain on the body. Water provides gentle resistance.

  3. Chair Yoga - This variation on yoga can be done entirely from a sitting position using modifications of traditional poses and stretches. It increases flexibility.

  4. Strength Training - Lifting light weights and using resistance bands can maintain and even rebuild lost muscle mass from aging. Focus on major muscle groups.

  5. Swimming - If you have access to a pool, swimming provides a total-body workout without stress on the joints. Do laps or just walk back and forth in the shallow end.

  6. Tai Chi - These flowing motions and postures improve balance and strength in seniors. Tai chi is relaxing and can ease pain.

  7. Stretching - Simple stretches done daily keep the body limber and flexible, which helps with mobility and preventing injury. Touch your toes, reach for the sky, stretch your neck.

  8. Dancing - Put on music and dance around your living room! Dancing gets you moving and is wonderful for both body and soul.

  9. Gardening - Working in the garden trims and tones upper body muscles. The sun and fresh air provide a mood boost too.

  10. Seated Exercises - Even those with limited mobility can do leg extensions, shoulder rolls, and arm circles from a sturdy chair for gentle range of motion.

According to the CDC, “As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can prevent or delay many of the health problems that seem to come with age. It also helps your muscles grow stronger so you can keep doing your day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on others.” The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise like brisk walking, plus two days a week of muscle-strengthening activities.

Staying active every day, even in small ways, improves overall health and quality of life for seniors. Consult a doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.