Great Exercise Programs for Seniors

Jul 25, 2013
Tagged with: Great Exercise Programs for Seniors

There is no age limit on staying fit. Numerous studies echo the benefits of regular exercise programs for seniors. The best exercise program is one that you will actually stick with, which eliminates “fad exercises” and overly ambitious goals. Before starting any exercise program, you should see your doctor for a routine physical and recommendations on what you should look for in an exercise program. While there are many great exercise routines for seniors, some factors to consider include:

• How often you normally exercise

• What your general shape is before starting an exercise program

• What your exercise goals are (lose weight, stay in shape, get into shape)

• How much time you have to devote to regular exercise


Before Getting Started

1. Get a physical

2. Buy a comfortable pair of shoes

3. Find an “exercise buddy” to stay motivated

4. Set small, realistic goals

5. Stretch to warm up your muscles



“If you’re just getting back into regular exercise or starting an exercise program for the first time, aerobic exercises tend to be more effective since you can start at your own pace”, says Steve Miller a frequent contributor for Assisted Living Today. Start by purchasing a pedometer. This is a device that attaches to waist to tell you how many steps you’ve taken. Ways to increase the number of steps you take daily include:

• Park further away from your intended destination

• Take the stairs instead of the elevator when it is practical to do this

• Join a mall walking group (it may be cliche, but it is a good way to get motivated)

• Walk around your neighborhood and increase your distance a little with subsequent walks


Note: The recommended goal for seniors is 10,000-15,000 steps per day.


Fitness Classes

There are many fitness classes designed specifically for seniors. Swimming and water classes are especially popular with seniors since muscles tend to be more flexible in water. This also means less stress on your joints, which translates into less soreness later. Additional fitness classes for seniors to consider include:

• Yoga – Many yoga movements are perfect for seniors and give you all the benefits normally associated with yoga, including the ability to deal with stress in a more productive way and learning to relax.

• Tai chi and martial arts – Most forms of martial arts focus on controlled movements, which is good for promoting increased flexibility in seniors.

• Low impact aerobics – Regardless of your age, it can be beneficial to get the heart rate up to a sustainable level. Add a proper cool down and you have a workout that targets most of your major muscle groups while increasing agility and  endurance.

• Step aerobics – When kept a reasonable pace, step aerobics can be great for seniors. The movements focus on building up the muscles in the legs, hips, and lower body.

• Dancing – Who says exercise for seniors can’t be fun? Dancing is a fun way to work most of the major muscle groups while getting building up endurance and getting a good “workout” that doesn’t feel like one.


Strength Training

Strength training is a resistance program where some form of resistance is place on a specific muscle group to build up strength in those muscles. Strength training for seniors involves a wide range of equipment, including:

• Free weights

• Weight machines

• Medicine/exercise balls

• Rubber bands

• Water-filled jugs


In addition to the YMCA and some local senior centers, many health and fitness clubs now include free weights and other exercise machines designed specifically for seniors. Many of the instructors in these facilities are also trained in assisting seniors wishing to adopt a strength training program. Effective strength training includes:

• Frequency – Different muscle groups should be worked on different days. The idea is to come up with a regular schedule for working each muscle group and stick to it.

Example: arms, chest and stomach Mondays and Wednesdays; legs and hips Tuesdays and Thursdays

• Speed – Strength training is meant to be performed at a slower, relaxed pace to increase the effectiveness of each movement.

• Quantity – Exercises should be performed a certain number of times (repetitions) in order to be effective. Start with low reps and build up endurance over time.



Pilates is an exercise program that emphasizes core strengthening. The focus is on developing strength, flexibility, and coordination through a series of specific movements. Many of these exercises can be incorporated into other exercise programs for seniors.

Before beginning any exercise class or starting any exercise program, it is important to develop a good stretching routine to keep joints and muscles limber and flexible. Don’t be afraid to mix things up and try different classes and different exercises. As long as you keep exercise exciting and fresh, you have a better shot at staying motivated and becoming or staying a healthy, energetic senior.

So what exercise gets you going?


Author: Katelyn Roberts

  • bobl07

    At the of the day, all the exercises we do now should be even more valuable as we get older. As I watch my parents and grandparents get older, they probably get sick and tired of me asking them if they are walking, exercising or watching their weight. Because of this it is even more incumbent upon myself to lead a healthy active lifestyle. You must practice what you preach.