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10 best exercises for senior citizens

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

Certain exercises charge you up! But are all exercises suitable for everyone? As a senior citizen, what are the most suitable exercises for you? These are some crucial questions. And we have got the answers! Read on to know the 10 best exercises for senior citizens.




What are the benefits of a regular exercise routine for seniors?

At least some physical activity is better than none at all, and the more you engage in physical activities, the healthier you will be. The benefits of physical activities include the following. 

  • It helps in preventing and regulating many health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

  • Physical activities release endorphins. These are happy hormones that improve your mental well-being.

  • Exercises improve strength, flexibility and balance. Thus it minimises the risk of falls.

  • Many seniors go for walks and jog in groups with their friends. This helps to reduce loneliness and improves their social well-being. 

  • Regular exercise improves brain functioning and mental abilities (cognitive functioning). This lowers the risk of developing dementia. 

10 Best exercises for senior citizens

Here’s a list of beneficial exercises for senior citizens.

1. Walking

Walking is the simplest and perhaps the easiest exercise that could be a part of anyone's life, particularly seniors. As a general rule, 10,000 steps a day is considered a healthy goal. But, depending on your health status and capacity, the distance and step targets differ from person to person. When performed as a group activity, it increases your social well-being as well. In addition to this, walking helps in strengthening your muscles. 

2. Cycling

Cycling is an excellent cardio exercise with many benefits for elders. Cycling can be done with an outdoor bike or a stationary cycle. It involves multiple muscle groups including the quadriceps and hamstrings and increases the blood flow to the heart and lungs. It is a low-impact exercise. These exercises are gentler on joints and muscles and especially suitable for you if you have joint or muscle pain or dysfunction. 

3. Swimming

Swimming is a great exercise to help you to stay fit, active and engaged. Like cycling, it is another low-impact exercise that takes the weight off of your joints and muscles, making it an ideal exercise for those with joint and muscle pain. In addition, it is a cardiovascular exercise that increases the blood flow to your heart and lungs. Swimming also has a positive impact on your brain and helps to improve your memory, mood and functioning.

4. Pilates 

Pilates is a gentler exercise. If you have not been exercising for a long time and want to restart your exercise routine, pilates may be a good option, to begin with. Pilates help in building strong core muscles. It provides increased stability and balance.

It is an excellent way to rehab after hip or knee replacement surgery. In addition, it helps in having a better balance, improved posture, joint stability, body awareness, strength and flexibility. 

5. Resistance-band workouts

Resistance training or strength training enhances muscle strength and endurance. Resistance bands are strong elastic bands which are inexpensive, easy to carry and useful for exercising all parts of the body. Hence, it is a suitable strength training exercise option for seniors. It helps to increase strength, endurance, flexibility and stamina. 

6. Squats

Squats are great exercises for seniors to grow muscle mass and gain strength in the legs. It helps to strengthen your back muscles, and stretch your calf muscles, prevents injury and improves your performance during other exercises. However, seniors should avoid deep squats which place additional strain on knee joints (which are a common site for arthritis).

7. Arm weights

Arm weights are a great way for strength training. It helps in alleviating symptoms of diabetes, osteoporosis, and back pain. Dumbbell exercises are an excellent way to strength-train. They help in isolating muscle groups and training them to strengthen them while improving balance and flexibility.

8. Regular stretching

As a person ages, their body tends to function slower. A good stretching routine helps you to increase your muscle flexibility and range of movement. It improves posture, balance and coordination. Seniors should stretch their major muscles for at least ten minutes two days a week. 

9. Yoga

As a non-traditional option that is specially meant for seniors, chair yoga is slowly gaining popularity among elders. It is more suitable for those with mobility challenges and balance issues that make sitting or lying on a yoga mat difficult. Here, several yoga poses are performed while seated on a chair.

10. Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a mind and body exercise which is rooted in Asian traditions. It combines martial arts, philosophy and traditional Chinese medicine. Generally recognised as one of the most health-promoting forms of fitness, it has been shown to deliver significant health benefits. It helps to improve balance, enhance immunity, and improve cognition. It is a great form of exercise for seniors.

The don’ts!

There are certain types of exercises that are not suitable for the elderly. These include the following.

  • Long distance running

  • Deadlifts

  • Bench press

  • Leg press

  • High-intensity interval training

  • Abdominal crunches 

  • Squats with dumbbells or weights

Things to keep in mind

There are certain things to keep in mind as you begin your fitness journey‐

  • Dress appropriately: Wearing the right clothes and the right shoes minimises your risk of injuries.

  • Begin slowly: Do not attempt to do high-intensity exercises from the first day. Begin slowly and progressively increase the intensity of the workout. 

  • If you feel pain, stop immediately: If you experience pain, abdominal discomfort, rising heartbeat or dizziness, stop exercising and seek medical attention.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some frequently asked questions related to exercises for seniors.


How much physical activity do seniors require?

As a general rule, you should work out for a minimum of 30 minutes every time for at least 5 days a week. However, this can vary based on your strength and capacity.

When is the best time to exercise?

Early morning is the best time for a workout for seniors. This helps in improving mental well-being and helps to elevate mood.

I am under medication for many medical conditions. Are exercises safe for me?

If you have any long-standing health condition or you are under medicine for it, you can still perform exercises. Exercise may even help you to have better control over your health. However, make sure that you talk to your doctor to know what precautions to take before exercising and what kind of exercises suit you the best. 

When should I have food before exercising?

It is always better to have a small snack at least 30 minutes before you start your exercise routine. If you have had a full meal, you should wait for at least an hour or two before you begin your routine. Ensure that your pre-workout meal is something simple to digest. 

Do I need to warm-up before exercise?

A good warm-up prepares your body for the workout. It prevents the risk of injuries and improves your flexibility. Hence always make sure that you warm up before you begin your workout.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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