6 Effective Exercises That Are Safe for Seniors

exercises that are safe for seniors

Exercise is a fundamental component of good health. It’s important for all seniors to get regular exercise that is safe and effective in promoting lasting wellness. However, seniors need to take more precautions than other age groups. The exercises they choose need to be low-impact so it doesn’t place too much strain on their joints. Furthermore, they should promote flexibility, strength-training, and cardiovascular health. All of these exercises are low impact and easily accessible. Some can be found at your local gym or community center, while others need no equipment at all.


The most fundamental exercise is walking, and for good reason. Regular walking is linked to improved cardiovascular and immune system health. It reduces arthritis pain by lubricating the joints and surrounding tissues. It also adds years to your life. Walking should be a part of your daily routine. Put on a pair of sneakers and go outside for a walk. You can walk around your neighborhood or go to a park. Call up a friend or find a walking group near you to have walking buddies. Don’t let rain stop you from taking a walk. If you have a gym or YMCA membership you can use the treadmill, elliptical, or indoor track. You can also walk around an indoor shopping center.

2Indoor Cycling/Spinning Classes

Cycling is great for seniors because it’s a low impact exercise that increases your heart rate. As long as you have enough balance to get on and off of a bike, you should be fine. It’s a good idea to talk to your instructor before class to notify her if you have back, neck, or wrist pain so you can receive modifications as needed.

3Chair Yoga/Stretches

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Our muscles and joints weaken and our range of motion declines as we age. For these reasons, it’s important for older adults to include stretching in their workout routine. The benefits of stretching are multi-faceted. Stretching reduces low back pain and arthritis, as well as the risk of falling. It improves posture and energy levels and increases the blood flow in the body.

Chair Yoga is a great workout for seniors who want to improve their flexibility and balance. In this class, a yoga teacher guides you through a series of gentle movements, including twists, bends, and reaches. These classes will leave you feeling refreshed, energized, and less tight in your muscles and joints. In-studio classes are beneficial because your instructor can give you modifications appropriate for your fitness level. If you would rather do stretches on your own, here’s a place to start.


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Pilates is a low-impact, yet effective mat workout. It promotes strength, balance, and flexibility. It also helps to slow or reverse the effects of Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. What makes Pilates different from other forms of exercise is its emphasis on the core. By focusing on building a strong core, you become less prone to injury. Pilates poses begin at the core and move out to your extremities with precision and control. This differs from gym equipment, where you begin with the limbs and work your way in toward your core.

If you recently had surgery, Pilates can help you regain your mobility and strength. If you had a stroke or suffer from brain damage, Pilates is a great exercise to help your body remember how to move symmetrically. Whatever your ailment may be, the sooner your body learns how to move in this way, the better.

Pilates is low impact because the classes are either performed on a mat or using a “reformer.” Mat classes involve standing, sitting, and lying on your back, stomach, or side. Movements are performed with a mid-range motion, which is enough to give you a good stretch but not too extreme to strain you.

The Pilates reformer is a piece of equipment that contains a bed-like frame with a platform (called the carriage). The carriage is pushed or pulled along the frame based on the exercises performed. It’s an effective way to work out your large muscles. You may find mat or reformer Pilates classes at senior centers, the gym, YMCA, or Pilates studios.

5Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art movement exercise focused on graceful movements and deep breathing. It’s perfect for seniors because it enhances cognitive functioning and flexibility. It also aids in supporting your immune system and cardiovascular health.

What sets Tai Chi apart from other exercises is how safe it is. The movements are performed in a gentle manner. Your muscles are slack, not rigid. Likewise, you don’t stretch to your full extent. It also helps to promote balance, which helps prevent falls. For these reasons, Tai Chi is a safe and effective exercise for seniors. You can find Tai Chi classes nearby or begin with these three videos for seniors.

6Swimming & Water-Exercise Classes

One of the most well-rounded exercises available is swimming. Moving in water works all the muscles in your body. It promotes excellent cardiovascular health, making your heart larger and stronger. Swimming improves bone mineral density, which is helpful for preventing osteoporosis. Because it’s non-weight bearing, it is gentle on your hips, legs, and joints. It is perhaps the lowest impact exercise available for seniors.

Nearly every gym or YMCA holds water-exercise classes for seniors. In these classes, instructors guide you through a variety of movements to help increase your flexibility while also giving you a great cardio workout. By choosing any of these safe exercises, you can help reverse and manage chronic conditions while improving your overall wellness.

Author Bio:

Dr. Michael Donaldson is a chemical engineering graduate of Cornell University and now Research Director of the Hallelujah Diet. He has spent the last 18 years studying people who have experienced health benefits through diet and published scientific research on its benefits for fighting fibromyalgia, cancer, diabetes, and other ailments. His work consists of designing and coordinating epidemiologic and clinical intervention studies based on specific symptoms or diseases and focuses on the results of the Hallelujah Diet.