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.
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.
When you exercise regularly as a senior adult, you’ll likely experience increased energy and independence.
Seniors that exercise regularly often experience:
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.
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:
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
You’ll want to work towards performing 3 sets of anywhere from 8-16 reps each.
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:
Ideally, you’ll perform 3 sets of anywhere between 6-12 reps.
Interested in seeing another arm curl variation? Watch this video.
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
Our content is created for educational purposes only. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Everdays encourages individuals to seek advice from their own investment or tax advisor or legal counsel.