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Best Exercises for Seniors

5 min read

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by Dr. Kurt Hong

Senior couple walking in a park

Many experts recommend that seniors above the age of 65 get at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise each week. Contrary to popular belief, exercise is not just for kids and adolescents. It is equally, if not more important, for adults and seniors as well.

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Physical activity helps improve muscle strength and stamina, boost energy, and enhance sleep. It also helps maintain healthy bones and joints and reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Exercise can also help to prevent unintentional weight gain and manage chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Above all, exercise can give people a feeling of well-being. 

Most seniors are retired and free from work activities, and this can often lead to boredom,  depression, and anxiety. Being involved in daily exercises allows them to remain physically fit, improve cognitive function, and prevent progression of diseases. It can also contribute to better overall mental health.

This article will cover five of the best, easiest exercises for seniors, and review some of the benefits you can expect by engaging in these activities.

The 5 Best and Easiest Exercises For Seniors

The workouts below are not only easy to perform but also fun, and therefore seniors should consider adding them to their daily routine.

1. Walking

Walking is the most common and easiest exercise for seniors. The best part is that it requires no additional equipment or a gym membership. Walking can be an enjoyable activity, especially if you take along a walking partner with you. This can be a friend, a relative, a neighbor, or anyone whose company you enjoy. Exercise can be a fantastic opportunity for social connection.

If you don’t have a regular walking partner, you can keep yourself entertained by playing a podcast or listening to music while you walk. Listening to music has been shown to help you keep pace with exercise and elevate your mood.

It is a good idea to choose a fun place to walk, such as a park, where you can enjoy the sounds of children playing. Another option is walking in a garden, where you can be immersed in nature. By following these tips, you can easily spend 30 minutes walking every day.

Research has revealed that walking can:

  • Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Improve immune function 
  • Boost your mood
  • Ease joint pain
  • Reduce the risk of diabetes

2. Light Jogging

Jogging is another easy exercise for the elderly. Light running can be beneficial for both the mental and physical health of seniors. 

Jogging effectively activates certain neurotransmitters in your body that can make you happy, leading to a feeling of both physical and mental well-being. In addition, jogging improves the activity of the cardiovascular system and helps you maintain a balanced weight. 

To avoid injuries while jogging, it is important to:

  • Perform 2 to 3 minutes of light warm-up before and after you exercise. This can be slow walking or walking in place for a couple of minutes before you start jogging. 
  • Wear proper, comfortable, and appropriate-sized shoes.
  • Stay well hydrated before, during, and after your run.
  • Start slowly at a pace where you don’t feel breathless after just a couple of minutes.

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3. Chair Yoga

Chair yoga is a great at-home exercise for seniors. If going outside for exercise is difficult on some days, chair yoga can be an effective substitute. This exercise can be done in the comfort of your own room. 

Chair yoga builds balance and strength, lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety, and protects joints. For older adults, it can also build core strength, loosen painful muscles, reduce chronic pain, and improve circulation.

Some easy chair yoga exercises for seniors include:

  • Overhead stretch: Interlace fingers above your head. Turn your palms facing toward the ceiling. Push your arms back and up. Hold for a few seconds. Relax and repeat.
  • Seated cat stretch: Sit in the middle of a sturdy chair with your feet flat on the ground. Put your hands on your thighs. Inhale, and by slightly lifting your chin up, curve your back and open your chest. Now exhale and draw your chin towards your chest by rounding your back. Repeat.

There are dozens of other easy chair yoga exercises you can do.

4. Swimming

Senior in swimming pool

Swimming can be a fun and very effective exercise, especially for older adults. Swimming can be a great exercise since it is gentle on the joints, improves flexibility, and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. According to research, regular swimming can reduce the risk of heart disease, improve your mood, and reduce day-to-day stress. It is the perfect workout for the entire body and lowers the risk of early death by 28%.

5. Cycling

Cycling is another fun and healthy exercise for seniors. It boosts mental and physical health and slows the aging process.

However, for the elderly, it is crucial to stay safe while cycling. Here are some preventive measures to take:

  • Wear a helmet and closed-toe shoes while cycling.
  • Cycle slowly and near your house.
  • Avoid cycling at night.
  • Attach bike lights and ensure your bicycle has a working bell to help prevent accidents.
  • Enjoy riding with a friend. If possible, do not ride alone, particularly for new riders. There is safety in numbers.

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