The Best Exercises for Seniors

The best exercises for seniors

The Best Exercises for Seniors with Limited Mobility

You have heard the advice “move it or lose it”…That’s tough advice when you are a senior living with mobility limitations. Even in those circumstances, there are still some very easy, yet effective exercises you can try.  For example, I was visiting my mother last weekend and I walked in during exercise time for wheelchair-bound seniors.

The exercise looked very simple, yet fun.  Each person was given a very light noodle (like they use in water exercises).
The leader then hits a large balloon to the participants and they try to keep it in the air by hitting to each other.  They were having such fun that I was tempted to join in!

Daily exercise when you are older can help strengthen muscles, keep joints lubricated, improve your mood, help with balance and overall well-being.  Check with your doctor first to before you begin any type of exercise program to get their professional advice on what would be best for you.  For example, my mother is not able to do the noodle exercise because she had a torn rotator cuff and even after surgery 6 years ago, it still occasionally acts up.

Here are some ideas for gentle low impact exercises…

Chair exercises can help improve the mobility of wheelchair-bound or other mobility-challenged seniors.  The chair acts to keep you stable at all times while doing low impact movements.  The following exercises come from the National Institute of Health.  

Here’s an example of a foot and ankle mobility exercise: 

  • Sit upright on the edge of a chairThe best exercises for seniors
  • Place both feet firmly on the floor and extend your left leg until the heel only is touching the floor.
  • Gently move your left toes and foot toward your body, feeling the stretch on the backside of your leg.
  • Slowly lean forward from your hips to increase the stretch. Hold this stretch for five seconds.
  • Slowly return to the upright position, moving your left leg so your foot is firmly planted.
  • Rest for 10 seconds. Repeat this five times.
  • Do the exercise again with your right leg.

This stretching exercise helps with posture and stretching your chest:

  • Sit in a sturdy, armless chair.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart.The best exercises for seniors
  • Hold your arms to your sides at shoulder height, with palms facing forward.
  • Slowly move your arms back, while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Stop when you feel a stretch or slight discomfort.
  • Try to hold the position for 10-30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3-5 times.

This next one focuses on your upper back and shoulders:

  • Sit in a sturdy, armless chair with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart.
  • Hold arms in front of you at shoulder height with palms facing outward.
  • Relax your shoulders, keep your upper body still, and reach forward with your hands.
  • Stop when you feel a stretch or slight discomfort.
  • Hold position for 10-30 seconds.
  • Sit back up.
  • Repeat at least 3-5 times.

Here’s a very good neck stretch exercise:neck stretch

  • Sitting in a sturdy chair.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart.
  • Slowly turn your head to the right until you feel a slight stretch.
  • Be careful not to tip or tilt your head forward or backward, but hold it in a comfortable position.
  • Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds.
  • Turn your head to the left and hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat at least 3 to 5 times.

Mobility exercises done in water provide a gentle workout. Water provides a natural buoyancy which helps support body weight and take pressure off of joints, decreasing risks of falling.  Here’s an example:

Walking in the Pool

  • Wear water shoes for traction.senior swimming
  • Do some water walking by getting into waist high water and walk back and forth in a pool.
  • As you become stronger, you can test walking in deeper water or just increase your repetitions.
  • Add arm swings to help increase strength and flexibility.
  • Warmer water helps loosen your muscles, increases flexibility and blood flow.
Chair Yoga

Yoga is becoming more and more popular with seniors, specifically chair yoga.  The following is a video yoga class for seniors:

Tips to Remember
  • Always have some water nearby to stay hydrated
  • If you are feeling discomfort with any exercise, stop immediately
  • Check with your doctor first before starting any type of new exercise
  • Start slowly and build up from there
  • Try to do some type of exercise every day
  • Enjoy yourself
Thanks again for reading our blog!  Are there some exercises that work well that you would like to share with the community?  Please let us know…


Related Article:  14 Tips for Reducing Stress


8 thoughts on “The Best Exercises for Seniors

  1. My father is almost 70 and I believe these exercises would be great for his health. His mobility is very weak and right now he has to use a walker 90% of the time. I am going to try to get him to do the chair yoga and see how it works.

    1. Kevin:

      They do these types of chair exercises where my mother lives and they seem to help. A physical therapist may be able to suggest other exercises to fit your Dad’s needs. Thanks for stopping by!


  2. My grandmother just recently got graduated from a physical therapy regimen following knee surgery in which she experienced amazing results! She lost a ton of weight, regained much of her mobility and honestly was better off physically after the surgery than she was prior. I think these are excellent exerices but I feel she is up for a bit more of a challenges. Do you know of any workouts for seniors that would be a bit more challenging?

    1. Alec:

      That’s great news about your grandmother. I recommend that she talk to her physical therapist to get more ideas. Water exercises are a good choice because they are low impact and based on the ones prescribed can be challenging. You need to just go at your own pace.


  3. Both my mom and dad are senior and unfortunately they don’t exercise. I will certainly be sharing this post with them as I found it very useful from my viewpoint. Hopefully that will start them off…
    Looking forward to more of your posts so I can share them with my parents.

  4. I refuse to join AARP because I’m really not as old as they think I am. Age is just a number, right? Except, I don’t have the energy I once did or the flexibility or the discipline to exercise.

    I’m sure the best exercises for seniors would help me, but just the thought of exercising bores me to tears. Any suggestions?

    I do enjoy walking and once a month I glance at the dumbbells near the door of my study.

    1. Gary,

      No worries! Walking is a great exercise. Getting a Fitbit is a great way to challenge yourself daily and have fun. Another great exercise for flexibility is yoga!


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