The Best Exercises for the Elderly

A healthy lifestyle should always include exercise and a good diet, and as we age, our needs change through time. A growing number of studies show how seniors should exercise frequently and how many seniors opt for an active lifestyle over a sedentary one. Read more on how exercise benefits the elderly in the long run and what exercises fit them best and are also hazardous to their health.

The Health Benefits of Exercise in the Elderly

Our metabolism changes as we age, therefore seniors have more reasons for maintaining their fitness than younger generations do. Even though physical fitness has advantages for everyone at any age, physically fit elderly benefits more significant health advantages.

The elderly should maintain as much activity as they can without overdoing it, according to doctors and health experts. Exercise makes elderly folks live longer, healthier, and happier lives.

Exercise later in life can have various advantages, such as:

The Best Exercises for the Elderly

Physical exercises are important for the elderly, but it can be difficult to figure out where to start. If you have not worked out for some time, getting back into being active can be overwhelming. There is also a chance the workouts you were once familiar with are not the ideal exercises for the elderly.

Before you begin your workout routine, it is important to get yourself check with a physician or health expert to make sure that you are in a healthy state to exercise, and to determine which exercises fit best for your fitness condition.

Water aerobics

For years, water aerobics are a well-known form of exercise for all ages, particularly for seniors. For people with arthritis and other types of joint discomfort, exercising in the water is perfect since the buoyancy of the water reduces the strain on your joints.

Additionally, water provides natural resistance, which eliminates the need for weights in strength training. Your strength, flexibility, and self-balance will all improve significantly, thanks to water aerobics workouts, which put no strain on your body.

Best senior water aerobics exercises include:

  • Aqua jogging
  • Flutter kicking
  • Standing water push-ups
  • Leg lifts
  • Arm curls

Chair yoga

Similar to water aerobics, chair yoga is a low-affect form of exercise that improves muscle strength, mobility, balance, and body flexibility, which covers the vital health aspects for the elderly. Chair yoga also is a form of yoga that offers less strain on your muscles, joints, and bones than yoga in its more traditional forms.

Not to mention, chair yoga has proven to be increasing the mental health of the elderly. Regular older adults who perform chair yoga have better quality sleep, decreased occurrences of depression, and feel happier overall.

Best chair yoga exercises for seniors include:

  • Overhead stretch
  • Seated cow stretch
  • Seated mountain pose
  • Seated cat stretch
  • Seated twist

Resistance band workouts

Resistance bands are elastic strips of rubber that gives resistance to exercises while providing less strain on your body. Exercises with resistance bands are simple to use and suitable for beginners.

Resistance band workouts are perfect for at-home training because the materials are very inexpensive up front, which is why this kind of exercise is becoming more and more popular among the elderly. These exercises are also the best for strengthening your core, which enhances balance, mobility, and posture.

Senior resistance band exercises include:

  • Band pull apart
  • Bicep curl
  • Triceps press
  • Lateral raise
  • Leg press


Years ago, the low-impact exercise method Pilates was invented. Breathing, alignment, concentration, and core strength are focused on during pilates exercises, which generally involve the use of mats, pilates balls, and other inflatable accessories to help build strength without the strain of more intense exercises. It has been proven that older persons who perform pilates have better balance, stronger core muscles, and greater flexibility.

Some best pilates exercises for the elderly include:

  • Side circles
  • Mermaid movement
  • Step-ups
  • Leg circle


One of the most common and least straining forms of exercise is walking. For some elderly, walking may be more difficult than others such as the distance and number of steps goals varies from one person to another. Commonly, 10,000 steps per day are recommended for a healthy lifestyle, but those with walking difficulties or joint pains might settle for a smaller amount for their goals. Walking helps by increasing your strength muscles, decreasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and colon cancer.

Ideal walking exercises for the elderly include:

  • Find a simple park trail to walk
  • Find a marathon that is walk-friendly
  • Walk along the perimeter of a familiar building
  • Listen to an audiobook or a music playlist for stimulation through your walking session

Body weight workouts

For older people, losing muscle can be heartbreaking and debilitating. About a third of seniors live with serious muscle loss, which leads to hormone issues, a decrease in the ability to metabolize protein, and other problems. One of the best ways to prevent the consequences of muscular atrophy in the elderly is through body weight workouts. One of the benefits of body weight exercises are their affordability. The equipment needed for body weight workouts is minimal. Most body weight workouts, acquires workout attire and a mat to lessen the impact on the floor.

Excellent senior body weight workouts include:

  • Squats to chair
  • Step-ups
  • Hip-lying bridges
  • Side-lying circles

Dumbell strength training

Strength training has been proven to reduce the symptoms of diabetes, osteoporosis, back pain, and depression. It also helps you maintain your weight. Strength training also contributes to increased metabolism and improves glucose control. Dumbbell exercises are one of the great ways to train strength for the elderly, with proper performance and precautions. Dumbbells allow the elderly to focus on certain muscle groups to strengthen while improving balance and flexibility simultaneously.

Some ideal dumbbell workouts for the elderly include:

  • Bent-over row
  • Bicep curl
  • Tricep extension
  • Overhead press
  • Front raise

Exercises Elderly Should Avoid

Some common workouts are not the best for the elderly as these workouts are more suitable for younger adults seeking to bulk themselves up or lose weight quickly. These workouts also affect the elderly with an unhealthy strain with joint pains, posture problems, atrophied muscles, or self-balance issues.

If you are over 65 and above, these are the exercises you should probably avoid:

  • Bench press
  • Leg press
  • Long-distance running
  • Squats with weights
  • Upright row
  • Abdominal crunches
  • Deadlift
  • High-intensity interval training
  • Power clean
  • Rock climbing

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Alief Zolkopli

Marketing Manager, Teman Malaysia

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