What are the Best Workouts for Seniors?

Pamela Pleasant

Exercise can be important for keeping older adults healthy — it can increase physical strength and stamina, and even combat certain medical conditions, such as arthritis or diabetes. As people age, the body naturally begins to slow down. Exercise is needed to compensate for this decrease so that flexibility, balance, and muscle mass can be maintained. The best workouts for seniors typically include exercises that can help to strengthen muscles and enhance endurance, such as leg lifts, dumbbell lifts, and daily stretching.

Practicing yoga helps older adults maintain strength and flexibility.
Practicing yoga helps older adults maintain strength and flexibility.

Being able to control position and balance usually will allow an older adult to partake in activities and live more independently. The best workouts for seniors typically include incorporating balancing exercises into the overall workout, thereby strengthening the lower body for more control. Examples of balancing exercises include leg lifts, hip extensions, and standing on one foot for a short amount of time.

Walking is a healthy exercise for the elderly.
Walking is a healthy exercise for the elderly.

A bad fall is one of the most common injuries for people 65 and older. Many of these types of falls result in hip injuries, including hip fractures. Using balancing exercises can be a good way to prevent these types of injuries.

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Strength training increases muscle mass, helping seniors remain active longer.
Strength training increases muscle mass, helping seniors remain active longer.

The best workouts for seniors should also include strength training. These types of exercises can increase muscle mass and this can help older adults perform everyday chores without discomfort. Using dumbbells or a resistance band to perform overhead presses, elbow extensions, or squats can be beneficial when trying to build muscles. This typically increases upper-body strength and improves joint functions; also, these exercises can aid in maintaining bone density. Strength training also can help boost metabolism, which could be useful if an older adult is trying to keep a weight problem under control.

Flexibility and being limber is another way an older adult can continue to enjoy a full range of motion and perform everyday tasks. Stretching can help to improve mobility and maintain muscle control. It usually is recommended that a person fully stretch before beginning any type of workout program. This warms up and releases the stress in the muscles, and prepares them for more strenuous exercises.

The best workouts for seniors should start with exercises that increase flexibility. This decreases the chances for an injury or pain due to weakened or stiff muscles. A few good exercises that can help to maintain flexibility can be touching the toes or stretching and rotating the neck. Yoga stretching exercises also can benefit the entire body.

Stretching helps seniors maintain flexibility.
Stretching helps seniors maintain flexibility.

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