man running in outdoor park

10 Best home workouts for seniors

While hunkering down at home is an absolute must during our tragic pandemic, it’s vital that you find ways to stay active and healthy. 

 

Under normal circumstances, sadly, people don’t get enough exercise. 

 

Especially people over the age of 65. 

 

In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a staggering 31 million older Americans are considered inactive. 

 

And if you’re over 75? 

 

About 1 in 3 men and 1 in 2 women over the age of 75 engage in no physical activity at all. 

 

yikes gif

 

It’s no wonder older adults experience such a significant loss of strength and stamina. It’s caused, in large part, by inactivity. 

 

To help you overcome an inactive lifestyle, I’ve put together 10 best home exercises, specifically beneficial for seniors. 

 

But first, let’s quickly cover the important benefits of physical activity. 

 

Key benefits of physical activity for older adults

 

Aside from the obvious benefits of maintaining a healthy weight and staying in shape, there are numerous benefits of physical activity. A simple home workout, without gym equipment, can do wonders for your health.

 

To name a few benefits of physical activity, regular exercise helps you:

  • Reduce your risk of falling and fracturing bones (which, by the way, 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling).
  • Reduce your death risk from coronary heart disease.
  • Reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, colon cancer and diabetes.
  • Reduce blood pressure (which is especially helpful if you have hypertension).
  • Combat anxiety, depression and bad moods.
  • Improve your stamina and muscle strength.
  • Maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints.
  • Control joint swelling and arthritic pains.

 

Plus, simply working out at home makes a big difference in your independent living. 

 

In other words, you up your chances of aging in place from the comfort of your own home when you maintain regular physical exercise. 

 

Wondering what the recommended exercise dosage is for reaping these benefits?

 

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, your physical activity should be at least 2.5 to 5 hours every week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity and at least two days a week of moderate-intensity muscle strengthening. 

 

moderate intensity aerobic activity 150 minutes per week
Do a mix of aerobic and strengthening activity – image source

 

Even if this sounds far-fetched, fret no more. 

 

Any amount of physical movement helps. The secret to reaching your home exercise goals is to simply start and to leverage the power of micro-stepping

 

Let’s get straight to the home exercises tailored to older adults. 

 

10 of the best home workout exercises for seniors 

 

It’s worth noting the best home workout exercises for older adults include a combo of strength and cardio exercises so we’ll cover both here. We recommend alternating cardio and strength days at least five days per week (for 30-60 minutes each workout). 

 

An example of an ideal workout might look like:

 

example weekly workout schedule
Alternate between cardio and strength days.

 

Home Workout Exercise #1. Your choice of cardio activity

For cardio, strive toward 30-60 minutes, five days a week. Cardio includes all of it, so take your pick and commit to doing it regularly: 

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Jumping jacks
  • Running place

 

You can do most of these activities from your home while gyms are closed and as you practice social distancing.

 

(Of course, when gyms are open again, take advantage and hop on those elliptical machines and treadmills.)

 

The beauty in cardio exercises is it’s completely customizable and personal, so make it your own. 

 

The only part that’s standard is warming up and down for 5 minutes each and stretching all your major muscle groups, including your legs, arms, back and chest.

 

Depending on your intensity level, start small and build up incrementally throughout the week. 

 

For instance, if you’re at a beginner level and a bit out of shape, start with something as doable as a 10-minute walk. 

 

Then, go for a 12-minute walk at your next cardio session. If that feels good, move it up to a 15-minute walk on your third cardio day and continue until your body feels acclimated to your home workout.

 

The last thing you want to do is put pressure on yourself to hit exercise goals that your body isn’t used to.

 

Basically, build on a simple foundation and incrementally (and consistently) add more intensity as your movement, energy and endurance improve.

 

OK, that covers cardio. The remainder of the home exercises focuses on strengthening.

 

Home Workout Exercise #2. Floor bridges

 

floor bridges

 

The floor bridge exercise is a simple and very effective way to work out your lower body. 

 

Just lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, about shoulder-width apart. Then slowly lift your pelvis off the floor, pushing through your heels, until your knees, hips and shoulders are aligned.

 

Works muscles: Glutes and hamstrings

 

Duration: 10-15 reps, 3x each

 

Home Workout Exercise #3. Bird dogs

 

bird dogs

 

The bird dog exercise is great for building your lower back function and allows for proper movement, control and stability of your whole body. 

 

Start in a kneeling position on the floor with your knees and feet hip-width apart. Then, slowly lean forward and place your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders with fingers facing forward.

 

Slowly extend your left leg and hip while simultaneously raising your (opposite) right arm. Your goal is to keep your raised leg, arm and both shoulders parallel to the floor as you flex. Slowly bring your extended leg and arm to your original position and flex the opposite sides. 

 

Works muscles: Core and back muscles, including your abdominal muscles, lower back, glutes and thighs. The exercise engages the trapezius muscles of your upper back and deltoids of your shoulder.

 

Duration: 10-15 reps, 3x each

 

Home Workout Exercise #4. Leg lifts

leg lifts

 

Leg lifts are ideal for strengthening your outside hip flexors. 

 

To do a leg lift, lie flat on your back and place your hands on the floor next to you with palms facing down. Raise both of your legs off the ground and exhale as you lift. 

 

Keep your knees locked as you lift and hold them up in the air for as long as you can (30 seconds if you’re looking for a general benchmark). Then, slowly lower your legs and return to your starting position, inhaling as you lower your legs.

 

Works muscles: Hip flexors, anterior abs and oblique muscles.

 

Duration: 10-15 reps, 3x each

 

Home Workout Exercise #5. Push-ups

 

pushups

 

You can do traditional push-ups on the floor or ones that are less strenuous by standing and leaning against a wall or countertop. 

 

Alternatively, for beginners, assisted push-ups work great. Simply do traditional push-ups with your knees, rather than toes, on the ground.

assisted pushup
To do a traditional push-up, start with all fours on the floor with your hands slightly wider than your shoulder-width. Then, extend your legs back, so you’re balanced on your hands and toes, keeping your body in a straight line from head to toe.

 

Tighten your core muscles and pull your belly button toward your spine throughout your movement. Inhale as you slowly lower yourself to the ground and bend your elbows until they’re at a 90-degree angle. 

 

Finally, exhale as you push up through your hands and keep your elbows slight bent and unlocked.

 

Works muscles: Chest, shoulders, triceps, core, back and legs.

 

Duration: 10-15 reps, 3x each

 

Home Workout Exercise #6. Squats

 

squats

 

Squats are great for not only building your leg muscles, but also improving muscle mass for your whole body.

 

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly pointing outwards. As you bend your knees to squat, make sure to move your rear-end backward and sit back with your knees in line with your toes. As you squat, let your hands meet mid-body and look straight.

 

Four common squat mistakes to avoid include: 

  • Starting from the knees
  • Letting your knees go inward
  • Hunching your back
  • Lifting your heels off the floor

 

Works muscles: Thighs, including quadriceps and hamstrings, glutes and core.

 

Duration: 10-15 reps, 3x each

 

Our final four exercises require basic lightweight dumbbells. For beginner workouts, use 3-8 lb weights. For intermediate and advanced workouts, use 5-8 lb weights to start. 

 

Home Workout Exercise #7. Bent-over row with light weights

 

bent-over rowing

 

Bent-over row exercises are great for strengthening your back and shoulders. 

 

Simply stand with your feet hip-width apart and a pair of dumbbells in your hands. Then bend at the waist while keeping your back parallel to the floor and your spine straight and neutral. Hold your arms and dumbbells extended out in front of you with a slight bend in your knees. 

 

Flex your abs and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you bring your weights toward your torso. Then, lower the weights back to the original position. Be careful not to bend your back and keep your elbows in and pointed upward.

 

Works muscles: Upper and mid-back muscles and shoulders.

 

Duration: 10-15 reps, 3x each

 

Home Workout Exercise #8. Alternating frontal raises with light weights

 

alternating frontal raises

 

Frontal raises are great for strengthening your shoulder muscles. 

 

To do this home workout exercise, stand in a neutral position holding your dumbbells comfortably at your side. Start by raising the left dumbbell with your ar straight out until it reaches shoulder level. 

 

Then, lower your arm and do the same with your right (opposite) arm and continue alternating the movements.

 

Works muscles: Your upper pecs and anterior deltoids.

 

Duration: 10-15 reps, 3x each

 

Home Workout Exercise #9. Overhead presses with light weights

 

overhead presses

 

Overhead presses are a good home exercise for seniors who want to strengthen their shoulders. 

 

To do the overhead press exercise, hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level with your elbows bent and palms facing frontwards. Then, simply brace your abs and press the weights up over your head while extending your arms straight. 

 

Bring the weights back down to your starting position and repeat. 

 

Works muscles: Front, middle and back shoulder muscles, biceps and triceps.

 

Duration: 10-15 reps, 3x each

 

Home Workout Exercise #10. Deadlifts with light weights

 

deadlifts with dumbbells

 

Deadlifts are great for strengthening your lower body.

 

To incorporate a deadlift into your home workout, hold a dumbbell at each side keeping your arms straight and your knees slightly bent. Then, slowly bend at your hip and lower the weights as far as you can while keeping your back straight and shoulders down. 

 

As you lower your body, keep looking forward and not at the ground, which will keep you from rounding your back. Keep the weights close to your legs. Then, pull yourself up at a faster pace than on bending down and squeeze your glutes as you do so. 

 

Works muscles: Glutes, hamstrings, quads and core.

 

Duration: 10-15 reps, 3x each

 

Here’s to staying active from the comfort of your own home 

 

With so many benefits of physical activity, it’s a must to remain as active as possible, especially as you get older. 

 

And if it’s been a while since you’ve been on a regular exercise regimen, don’t worry. Getting into tip-top shape doesn’t have to be daunting or overwhelming – so long as you just start. 

 

You can build up to larger exercise goals incrementally over time. The key is to be consistent and practice micro-stepping your way to your larger goals. 

 

And for inspiration, and to prove that it is possible to maintain a killer physique well into your deeper decades, I’ll leave you with this all-star to look to:

 

Charles Eugster began a fitness program at age 85 and didn’t start running until he was 95. He has set several records for his age group in indoor and outdoor races.

 

Charles Eugster
Charles set multiple world records in his age group – image source

 

And if you want a proven system for transforming your lifestyle into an active, healthy and purposeful one, book a free 1-on-1 breakthrough session

 

I’m rooting for you. 

 

(Senior exercise plan recommended by my colleague Lindsey R. Ladd, SASM PES Certified; Workout exercise images source: Spotebi)