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Best Exercises for Seniors (Safe & Effective Workouts)

Christiana Mikesch
Published by Christiana Mikesch | Senior Coach
Last updated: September 26, 2023

Nothing is more worth admiring than seeing older adults and seniors participating in regular physical activity.

However, many seniors simply don’t know where to start and which exercises and workouts are the best to perform for their age and current fitness level.

As a certified personal trainer with more than 40 hours of prior research, I singled out the best exercises for seniors based on factors such as fitness level and age-related necessities and preferences.

After reading the article, you will know how to perform all these exercises to lead a healthier lifestyle, promote healthy sleep habits, and solve the joint problems many have when transitioning to moderate-impact workouts.

Quick Summary

  • The best exercises for seniors include water aerobics, chair yoga, resistance band workouts, pilates, walking, bodyweight workouts, and dumbbell strength training.
  • Regular strength exercise improves balance and helps seniors and older adults function seamlessly and perform daily activities easily and without pain in their joints, lower back, and similar body parts.
  • Consuming joint supplements daily is the best way to eliminate joint pain and easily perform moderate-impact aerobic and strength exercises.

5 The Best Exercises for Seniors

A senior couple working out outside

Below are the 5 best recommended exercises for seniors to burn fat that will also improve cardiovascular health, strength, balance, and joint health.

"Balance is an aspect of fitness that tends to go overlooked until it’s too late. Most people spend time trying to put on size, add pounds to their bar in the big lifts, or finally see visible abs. For older adults and senior citizens, balance is not only a key aspect of health and fitness but general safety as well."

- Shane McLean, Certified Personal Trainer

1. Water Aerobics

Water aerobics, or aqua aerobics, is an excellent activity for seniors since it is very low-impact on joints and beginner friendly.

It is well known that water buoyancy decreases the impact on joints, making it the perfect workout option for seniors with joint pain, arthritis, and limited mobility.

In addition, water aerobics will effectively reduce the risk of injury for seniors since it provides a safe environment for exercise. 

It will minimize the risk of falls and injuries. Water aerobics will also improve cardiovascular endurance, fitness, and overall circulation.

Lastly, this form of activity in water will increase your muscle strength and tone, preventing muscle weakness and reducing the chance of falling and injuring yourself [1].

2. Chair Yoga

A senior doing chair yoga at home

Chair yoga is an excellent option for seniors since it is a modified type of yoga, entirely performed while sitting on a chair or using a chair for support.

Many wonder, does yoga burn fat while chair yoga primarily focuses on flexibility and joint mobility, it can also contribute to calorie burn and overall fitness.

Chair yoga is a great activity that will improve your flexibility, which slowly starts declining after the 30s and 40s due to musculoskeletal changes and aging effects.

Flexibility and joint mobility are crucial for seniors to perform regular activities easily. In addition, chair yoga will improve seniors' strength and balance, and we know how important balance is for older people [2].

Without sufficient strength and balance, seniors have an increased chance of injuring themselves and experiencing movement difficulties.

Chair yoga is also useful for improving your posture and overall body awareness.

Seniors will learn how to stand and sit with appropriate posture, which alleviates strain on the spine and improves balance.

3. Resistance Band Workouts

A senior doing resistance band workouts

Resistance band workouts can benefit seniors and older adults since they are safe and a great way to increase strength [3].

Resistance band exercises are a very gentle but effective way to induce hypertrophy effects and increase your muscle size and functionality.

They can target multiple muscle groups simultaneously while increasing the resistance as you progress to the end range of motion.

These workouts can also improve your overall joint stability and mobility while decreasing the chance of injury and falling during daily activities.

Resistance band workouts are also heavily used for improving balance and coordination, which certainly declines with age.

Seniors particularly benefit from resistance band exercises that involve unilateral movement, meaning standing on one leg or using one arm to perform the movement.

Lastly, resistance bands allow a great range of motion and are very low impact, which is excellent for those with joint issues and consistent pain.

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4. Pilates

A senior doing pilates at home

The most important benefit of pilates exercises is increased core strength, flexibility, and balance.

Pilates workouts will focus on strengthening and activating core and abdominal muscles, which have the biggest role in stabilizing your upper and lower body during daily activities.

Pilates will improve the effectiveness of your back, pelvic, and abdominal muscles, which are necessary for normal daily functioning.

In addition, pilates always incorporates some form of dynamic or static stretching exercises that are excellent for improving your mobility and flexibility.

Pilates also focuses on proper body alignment and posture, and seniors will learn to maintain good posture by performing pilates exercises regularly.

You will also improve your physical fitness, and balance and lower the chance of falling during daily activities.

5. Walking

A senior and a young adult walking outside

Walking burns fat and has numerous cardiovascular and weight management benefits for seniors. It is the simplest, yet most powerful exercise available.

It is considered a low-impact and low-intensity cardiovascular exercise that increases your heart pumping and blood circulation.

Walking daily will strengthen your heart, improve your cardiovascular fitness, and reduce the chance of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

In addition, walking can contribute greatly to weight management, allowing you to burn significantly more calories daily, which will burn fat and lose weight.

Walking is also great for joints since it is a low-impact physical activity.

It puts minimal stress on the joints compared to jogging or running, which are moderate or high-impact joint exercises. 

It is also great for improving your bone strength, balance, and coordination, which is necessary for all older people with an increased risk of falls.

Lastly, walking is an activity that will allow you to improve your mental well-being, reduce stress, boost your mood, and decrease anxiety and depression.

Related: Does Walking on an Incline Burn Belly Fat


What Is the Most Important Exercise for Seniors?

The most important exercise for seniors is walking. However, balance exercises and strength training exercises are also crucial for maintaining your stability and functional strength when carrying groceries and performing regular daily activities.

What Is the Best Exercise for Over 60s?

The best exercise for those over 60 is a muscle-strength exercise regimen. This means performing regular physical activity in the form of a weight training workout routine to support your active lifestyle and improve balance, which is crucial for all seniors.

How Often Should a 70 Year Old Exercise?

A 70-year-old should exercise at least two to three times a week. There are numerous health benefits from regularly indulging in some form of seniors exercise and leading an active, healthy lifestyle.

What Exercises Should Be Avoided After 60?

Exercises that should be avoided after 60 are the highest intensity interval training and lifting more than 90% of your 1 rep max. Older adults can experience multiple injuries by participating in these exercise programs, meaning they should be avoided at all costs.

How Can I Reshape My Body at 60?

You can reshape your body at 60 by performing a mix of weight training and aerobic exercises. To build a strong and endurant body at 60, you must perform some type of resistance training and at least three cardio training sessions weekly.

How Can Seniors Avoid Joint Injuries While Exercising?

Seniors can avoid joint injuries while exercising by consuming high-quality and tested joint supplements.

Many seniors experience issues when transitioning from low to medium-impact strength and cardio exercises because their joints simply can’t follow the level of force that needs to be absorbed by their joints.

This is why it is crucial to regularly consume appropriate supplements to decrease the overall pain and traction in your joints.

Read our guide on the best joint supplements to pick the best one that will suit your needs, goals, and type of exercise.

Let me know the biggest challenges and difficulties your experience during senior workouts and exercises.


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