Exercises for Seniors at Home: Cardio and Weights | Everdays

Exercises for Seniors at Home

Staying active is one of the most important ways to maintain optimal health throughout your life—but even if you’re not ready to run off to the gym every morning, there are plenty of exercises for seniors at home that will provide incredible benefits.


Improve your overall health and wellness with our list of the best exercises for seniors at home: cardio, weight lifting, and a few key techniques to avoid so you can stay safe.

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Health Benefits of Exercises for Seniors at Home

Exercise is an important part of life at any stage—but as we age, the health benefits of exercise for seniors become even more critical.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that seniors aged 65 and older incorporate 150 minutes of moderate endurance activity into their week—which equates to approximately 20 minutes of exercise daily, or 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.


When you include regular physical activity into your daily routine, it can prevent—or even delay—many of the common health problems that tend to occur with age. Physical activity is shown to lower the risk of heart disease, type II diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. Plus, moving your body also increases your strength, your balance, and your mobility—all of which can help you maintain independence longer throughout your life.


If you’ve ever enjoyed a workout and felt your mood elevated afterward, you’re not alone. One common benefit of exercise is that it can increase your happiness and boost your mood, thanks to the production of endorphins.


Although the benefits of exercise span far and wide, participation in physical exercise has also been shown to be beneficial for the treatment of depression in seniors—so if you’ve struggled with your mental wellness throughout your life or in your older years, incorporating an exercise routine can be a healthy way to reduce feelings of depression, anxiety, or sadness.


Increased Energy and Independence

When you exercise regularly as a senior adult, you’ll likely experience increased energy and independence.


Seniors that exercise regularly often experience:

  • Better mobility and balance: Mobility and balance are both essential skills to retain to prevent falls—and unfortunately, falling is a very common occurrence for many seniors. Every 11 seconds, an older adult is admitted to an emergency room for a fall-related injury. Luckily, regular exercise can reduce the likelihood of falling by as much as 23 percent.
  • Improved sleep: Exercising helps many seniors fall asleep more quickly and improves overall sleep quality. Even exercise such as golfing, gardening, or walking, can make a difference.
  • Increased energy levels: Getting older doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically experience lower energy levels—however, a few minutes of movement throughout the day can prevent your energy levels from falling.


Improved Health and Prevention of Disease

In addition to increased energy and independence, exercise is also connected to improved health and the prevention of disease in seniors.


One of the most common challenges for many seniors is decreased immune system function. Beginning in your sixties, the human immune system undergoes many changes and can lose its ability to protect against infections, cancers, or heal wounds. Seniors can help strengthen their overall immune system health by staying active, exercising regularly, and maintaining a nutritious diet.


Incorporating a regular exercise routine into your life can also help prevent chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. If you’re worried about cognitive decline—or if you’re experiencing a chronic condition—adding exercise to your routine may have an immediate impact. One study found that adults over the age of 60 displayed fewer Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers when they added 30 minutes of exercise to their daily routine.

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How To Set Up a Senior Exercise Program at Home

Ready to start your exercise journey? Here’s everything you need to know about setting up a senior exercise program at home. You don’t have to buy a gym membership or schedule walks with a group—elevating your health can be done effectively within the comfort of your own space.


Before you jump into finding the right exercises for older adults to do at home, make sure you schedule a time to talk with your primary care physician. Confirm what’s safe for you, taking into account your history and your physical ability. Your doctor will help you review tips to work out safely and suggest appropriate levels of frequency and intensity to ensure you stay safe.


As you get started with a senior exercise program at home, keep these tips in mind:

  • Don’t overdo it. Check-in with your body throughout your workout. Are you experiencing any pain? Does it feel too challenging? Do you feel overexerted? If you begin to feel pain or excessive fatigue, you can scale down the exercises or take a break and come back to the exercise later.
  • Remember to warm up and cool down. Even if you’re just working out at home, warming up and cooling down is still absolutely essential. Set aside five minutes at the beginning and the end of your workout to stretch. You can also take this time to notice any pain, stiffness, or discomfort in your body.
  • Drink plenty of water. Even if you don’t feel thirsty at the end of your workout, make sure that you’re drinking enough water.
  • Rest when you need it. It’s rarely a good idea to push through pain or discomfort. If you’re not feeling your strongest, take time to rest. Instead of your scheduled cardio or weightlifting adventure, opt for something that’s more restorative, such as yoga or stretching.
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Cardio Exercises for Seniors At Home

Not all types of exercise are created equally—and that’s why it’s important to incorporate multiple types of exercise into your routine. Aerobic physical activity, or “cardio,” increases your heart rate and breathing. Even something as simple as walking can help you get the aerobic activity you need, which is why cardio exercises are some of the safest exercises for seniors at home.


Let’s explore the benefits of cardio and some cardio exercises for seniors at home.


Cycling

One popular aerobic exercise for seniors at home is cycling. Whether you have a stationary bike in your house or you opt to bike around your neighborhood, cycling is a great cardio exercise for aging bodies.


Because cycling is a low-impact activity, it minimizes joint pain and stress—but you’ll still get the benefits of exercising the cardiovascular system and promoting overall heart health. Plus, the health benefits of cycling are incredible: Regular cycling cuts the risk of death from all causes by more than 40 percent, and cuts the risk of cancer and heart disease by 45 percent.


Walking

Walking is one of the best home workouts for seniors. Not only is walking a low-impact exercise, but it’s also an easy way to lower your blood pressure, relieve stress, and get in some great cardio. You can walk through your neighborhood, on local well-maintained trails, at a nearby mall or large shopping center, or even just around your house.


Experts recommend 10,000 steps for most people—but as you age, the recommendation shifts to between 7,000 and 10,000 steps a day.


Remember to start slow. If you’re experiencing pain from walking, talk to your doctor about how you’re feeling and what you can do to help remedy it.


Leg Raises

This last cardio exercise is also considered one of many leg strengthening exercises for seniors at home! Leg raises work to strengthen the leg and foot muscles—but this exercise can also provide aerobic activity and support long-term balance.


Here’s how you perform them:

  • Start sitting or standing (ideally standing with a stability aid on your side)
  • You can choose to pick up your whole leg from your hip, or by bending your knee (it’s best practice to work on both of these as they activate different muscle groups!)
  • When you can’t lift your leg any higher, slowly return it to the floor and repeat.
  • Practice this movement for 30-60 seconds at a time on one side.
  • When finished, switch to the other side.
  • Alternate until you have performed multiple series of these exercises on each leg.

Here’s what standing leg raises look like in action.


If you suffer from joint pain, one way to get the cardio benefits without the impact is by practicing this exercise in a pool or by taking a water aerobics class.

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Weight Exercises for Seniors At Home

Most people believe they can’t create sustainable weight-based exercise routines at home due to the lack of space or availability to use machines. The good news is this: There are hundreds of weight exercises for seniors at home you can do with your own body weight or a small weight, like a dumbbell.


When it comes to weight exercises, it’s important to focus on posture and positioning—instead of fixating on the amount of weight you’re lifting. Your goal is to tone and build muscle, and in most cases, you don’t require large amounts of weight to do that.


When considering a new weight-lifting exercise, be sure to consult a trainer or a professional on the proper way to perform the exercise to ensure that you stay safe.


Dumbbell Overhead Press

The Dumbbell Overhead Press is one of many great exercises for the elderly to do at home. This exercise targets the shoulders and upper body—and it’s a highly effective back exercise for seniors to perform at home for seniors.


Here’s how to do it:

  • Begin standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Envision that your head, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles are all aligned in a straight line.
  • Pick up your weights and bend your elbows so they are near your shoulders and your elbows are pointing straight down.
  • Inhale.
  • Start pushing the weight ups.
  • As they pass your eyes, begin your exhale.
  • Inhale again when your arms are fully extended.
  • Exhale as you lower them to the starting position.

You’ll want to build up to more intense sets, but a good place to start is with 3 sets of 5-8 reps.


You can watch a dumbbell overhead press in action here.


Dumbbell Front Raise

Dumbell Front Raises are a great way to tone and strengthen your shoulders, biceps, and upper chest. Since they target a few major muscle groups, they’re one of the best exercises for seniors at home.


Here’s how to do it:

  • Begin standing with your head over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips, your hips over your knees, and your knees over your ankles.
  • Holding your weights at your hips, inhale.
  • Exhale as you raise your arms directly in front of you to shoulder height.
  • Inhale as you lower your arms to repeat the cycle.

You’ll want to work towards performing 3 sets of anywhere from 8-16 reps each.


Watch it done here.


Dumbbell Arm Curls

Dumbbell Arm Curls are a great arm exercise to work your upper arms—with a primary focus on your biceps.


Here’s how to do it:

  • Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your shoulders rolled back down your spine.
  • With your palms facing out, grip the weights at your hips.
  • Pin your elbows to your sides and inhale.
  • Bending at your elbows, pull your hands towards your shoulders.
  • Be sure to keep your elbows locked to your sides.
  • When you get to your shoulders, give a little extra squeeze to your biceps before you begin inhaling and lowering your arms.

Ideally, you’ll perform 3 sets of anywhere between 6-12 reps.


Interested in seeing another arm curl variation? Watch this video.

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Full Body Home Workout for Seniors

If you’re interested in finding a more integrative workout program, consider a full-body home workout for seniors. A full-body workout will focus on all your major muscle groups—while also incorporating some breathwork or other elements.


Here are a few ideas to get you started as you consider what senior exercise programs at home are a good fit for you.


Resistance Band Workouts

Resistance band workouts are a great full-body workout because you can use them to help strengthen just about any part of your body.


Most of these workouts are comprised of multiple exercises where you use a resistance band to increase your body weight resistance, build muscle, and strengthen your body.


Here’s a workout we recommend. It involves six exercises and is complete with videos to help you learn each exercise.


Yoga and Pilates

If you’re looking for a slower-moving or body weight-based full-body workout program, consider yoga or pilates.


Yoga is a slow-moving whole-body experience—and it can help increase your balance, flexibility, overall strength, and can lead to a healthier heart and a happier mood. It also helps by decreasing symptoms of stress, anxiety, arthritis, back pain, and more. While you can find lots of options for yoga online, we love this beginner's at-home yoga practice.


Pilates is a precision-based group of exercises, which works by stretching and lengthening all of your major muscle groups. Pilates, similarly to yoga, requires concentration and precise body movements. It’s possible to find pilates exercises for every ability and interest—the range of exercises available varies greatly by workout and teacher. This is a great Pilates workout to try at home.


Body Weight Workouts

If you’re looking for a more intense mix of cardio and strength training, consider a body-weight workout. Body weight workouts are great at improving your cardio and helping you build muscle all at the same time.


Here’s a great example of a bodyweight workout you can do at home.

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Home Workouts Seniors Should Avoid

While you have a lot of freedom to develop a workout routine you’re excited about, it’s important to avoid activities that might not be the safest for you and your body. As you determine the right exercise plan for your health and ability, pick exercises that are challenging—but not unsafe.


As you age, your goal should be to avoid injury—all while building strength and endurance, improving your balance, and promoting flexibility and stability. Pay attention to what feels right for your unique body.


In general, we recommend that most seniors avoid the following exercises:

  • Intense squatting
  • Long-distance running
  • Rock climbing
  • High-intensity interval training
  • Free weight activities, such as bench press, deadlifts, or squats
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Learn and Plan With Everdays

As you prepare for the next phase of your life, Everdays is here to help. From staying healthy as you age to preparing for your end-of-life plan, our comprehensive platform helps you get access to all the resources and information you need so you can live out your golden years with joy, confidence, and fun.

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© 2022 Everdays, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Everdays mark and the Everdays logo are registered trademarks of Everdays, Inc.
* This app is owned and operated by Everdays, Inc., a Delaware corporation doing business in California as Everdays Moments Insurance Marketing.