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Our Favorite Exercises for Older Adults

Seniors Exercising

Exercise is a key ingredient in a healthy lifestyle at every age, but it is especially important to the well-being of older adults. Staying active into the senior years can contribute to cardiac health, prevent diabetes and reduce the pain and immobility of arthritis. It will also positively impact mental health, keeping the mind alert and staving off depression.

Whether you are just beginning to embark on a fitness regimen or seeking to maintain the progress you’ve already made, consider incorporating these exercises into your active lifestyle.

A is for Aerobics

Aerobic exercise is beneficial on many levels, including burning off calories, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improving heart health and increasing overall energy. The goal is 30 minutes of aerobic activity at a time, but you may need to work up to that. Start with a 5-minute cardio session a few days a work and increase the session as your endurance improves. Briskly walking, playing tennis, and swimming are all great moderate exercises for older adults. For those who are fit for more intense activity, hiking and running are great options.

Strength Training

Maintaining strength will keep you actively participating in the activities you love and help prevent injury. Work your lower body with some basic low impact exercises like:


Squats in front of a sturdy chair.   

  • Bend your knees as far as you comfortably can without having your knees pass your toes, then return to the starting position.

  • Repeat 10 times.

  • For a more advanced version try the half-squat against the wall: perform this against the wall and bend your knees to almost 90 degrees as if you were sitting on an invisible chair.

Incorporating free weights will help develop upper body strength.


Wrist Curls

  • Place your forearm on a chair’s armrest with your hand hanging over the edge.

  • Hold a weight with your palm facing upward.

  • Slowly bend your wrist up and down, then repeat 10 times.

  • Switch sides and perform 10 reps with your other hand.


Bicep Curls

  • Choose a dumbbell heavy enough that you can only complete 10-12 reps.

  • Begin sitting in a chair with one dumbbell in each hand, with your palms facing forward, keeping your elbows close to your sides.

  • Bend your arm at the elbows to lift the dumbbell ¾ of the way to your shoulders, without moving your elbows away from your side.

  • Do 10 to 12 repetitions per arm.


   Sidearm raises

  • Hold weights at your sides—palms inward.

  • Raise your arms out to the sides


  Front arm raises

  • Hold weights at your sides—palms down.

  • Raise arms to shoulder height.


Modified Push-Ups

While traditional push-ups may be a bit out of your wheelhouse, modified push-ups are a great way to work arms, shoulders and chest.

  • Face a blank wall and stand about arm’s length away.

  • Lean forward pressing your arms against the wall.

  • Bend your arms and slowly bring your upper body toward the wall.

  • Hold for a moment.

  • Push yourself back until arms are straight again.

 Aim for two sets of at least 10 reps for each of these exercises.

Find Your Balance

 Leg raises are great multi-taskers. Not only do they help strengthen thigh, hip, butt and lower back muscles, they help improve balance as well.

  Side Leg Raises

  • Stand behind a chair

  • For better balance, hold on.

  • Lift one leg out to the side keeping it completely aligned from heel to hip

  • Maintain a straight back and a slight bend in the supporting leg.

  • Slowly lower the leg.


  Back Leg Raises

  • Using the chair for balance, without bending forward, slowly lift one leg behind you.

  • Hold for a moment.

  • Lower the leg.

  • Do not bend the lifted leg or point the toes.

  • Keep the standing leg slightly bent. 

Aim for two sets of ten with each leg.

Flexibility is Key 

Safe and proper stretching helps maintain flexibility which is important if you want the biggest bang for your exercise buck.


  Shoulder Stretch

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides.

  • Bring both arms behind your back and grasp hands.

  • With shoulders open and pulled back, hold the move for about 30 seconds.


  Neck, Shoulders, and Upper Back Stretch

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and clasp your hands in front.

  • Turn your hands so the palms face the ground.

  • Bring arms to shoulder height.

  • Press palms outward, away from the body and hold for 30 seconds.

Low Impact Can Have Great Impact

Low impact exercises for older adults offer the best of all activity worlds. Swimming, gentle yoga, walking at any speed, Pilates, and tai chi, along with the moderate stretching and light weight training mentioned above will keep your body moving and improving without stress and strain.   

Taking the necessary steps to increase endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility is an investment in both the quality and longevity of the golden years.  

Contact the Overture community near you today to join other active adults who are staying fit, involved and healthy by taking advantage of Overtures long list of fitness opportunities.