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Workouts for Seniors: How to Exercise Without Overexertion

Healthcare | November 21, 2022

A group of happy and healthy people making the most out of workouts for seniors.

Have you been looking at ways to live a longer, healthier, and happier life? If so, you’re not alone.

Physical fitness is a great way that people of all ages can improve their overall quality of life. In fact, Healthline reported that regular physical activity keeps you healthy and adds years to your life.

Of course, physical fitness is just that – physical. One concern surrounding senior workouts is that exercises may leave you feeling fatigued, out of breath, and in a lot of discomfort. Other pain points are that seniors are more susceptible to falling than other age groups, and that more than 50% of people over 65 experience joint pain.

It’s not the best idea to do exercises that worsen joint pain or lead to burnout. Instead, you want to feel mightier, healthier, and as if you can take on the world. Ready to live your best life, keep reading to learn more about the best workouts for seniors that won’t push you too hard.

Why Should Seniors Exercise?

No matter how old you are, it’s extremely important to stay physically active. A consistent workout routine has several health benefits. According to Mayo Clinic, physical activity reduces the risk and worsening of chronic diseases such as:

  • Dementia
  • High blood pressure
  • Type two diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Back pain

Regular exercise also does more than reduce the risk of other issues – it can help you feel better. Regular physical activity is a great way to give you more energy, improve balance, and feel stronger. If you work out, you might also experience:

  • Better sleep
  • Improved mood and emotional wellbeing
  • Enhanced social skills when joining a gym workout class or working out with a buddy

What is an Appropriate Exercise Guideline for Older Adults?

You should ultimately engage in a workout routine that fits your lifestyle and fitness level. Everyone is different, but there is a lot of information on how to exercise to achieve the best results.

The CDC suggests that Americans aged 65 and older should incorporate 150 minutes of moderate exercise into their week. This suggestion might seem time-consuming at first. Fortunately, you don’t have to do marathon sessions to stay healthy. You can break your exercises into 10 to 15-minute chunks twice a day or more.

These activities could include brisk walks or fast dancing. However, the Physical Activities Guidelines for Americans suggest working out 75 minutes weekly if you prefer vigorous activities such as running.

As you begin your workout journey, remember to take things slowly. Tailor your workout to low-impact and knee-friendly exercises. The key is to stay active, not become inactive because your workout was too hard or painful.

We recommend talking to your doctor before starting a workout plan if you have specific health conditions. Additionally, you should consider the following tips to help avoid injury and burnout:

  • Do low-impact exercises
  • Warm up before a workout and cool down after exercising by stretching
  • Drink water before, during, after your workout, and throughout the day
  • Wear the proper clothing and shoes while you exercise
  • Ensure that your workout area is debris-free and that you’re working out on a safe, non-slip surface
  • Exercise within your fitness level

Signs That You’re Pushing Yourself Too Hard When Exercising

High-intensity exercises are great if you want to get your heart pumping, but should be done with caution. Over-performing these exercises isn’t ideal for seniors. Overexertion can lead to your heart overworking, more tension on the body, and your body not being able to recover quickly.

Overexertion is bad news, but there are ways to spot it and stop it before you go too far. Common signs that you’re overexerting yourself while working out include:

  • Loss of breath
  • Improper form
  • Severe joint and muscle pain

The Best Exercises for Seniors

Starting an exercise routine can be hard for anyone, but it’s never too late to start. The key is to find a workout that works for you! We recommend giving these easy exercises for seniors a try.

Water aerobics exercises

If you have joint pain or arthritis, you’ll appreciate exercising in water. The water’s buoyancy puts less stress on joints, making these exercises gentler on your body. Water also adds its own resistance, eliminating the need to strength train on the same day you swim. Besides swimming a few laps, you could try

  • Aqua jogging
  • Flutter kicking
  • Leg lifts
  • Standing water push-ups
  • Arm curls

Chair yoga 

Chair yoga is another great low impact exercise like water aerobics. It improves muscle strength, mobility, balance and coordination, and flexibility while not harming your joints, muscles, or bones. Excellent yoga chair exercises for seniors include overhead, seated cow, and seated cat stretches. Seated mountain poses and twists are also ideal for older adults.

Resistance bands 

If you’re looking for exercise equipment that doesn’t cost a lot of money, especially if you have a limited monthly income, resistance bands are cost-effective. Resistance bands are also user-friendly and accessible for beginners and seniors. Resistance training in this way strengthens your core, and improves posture, mobility, and balance without added stress. You can use resistance bands to perform leg and triceps presses, lateral raises, and bicep curls.


Joints can become stiff as we age. Pilates is a perfect way to loosen up your joints. You can use mats, Pilates balls, and other inflated objects to help with breathing, alignment, concentration, core strength, and flexibility. Ideal Pilates exercises for older adults include:

  • Mermaid movements
  • Side circles
  • Foot slides
  • Step-ups
  • Leg circles


For some people, walking doesn’t even feel like exercise because it seems so effortless. Still, it’s an excellent way to stay healthy. Even walking around the house can help you stay active. However, walking on a moderate walking trail adds a challenge. Walking the dog is also another reason to enjoy outdoor walking.

Body-weight workouts 

Have you not been feeling as strong as you once did? There is a reason for that. Everyone loses bone and muscle mass as they age. You can combat the effects of muscular atrophy with muscle-strengthening activities. These activities include:

  • Squats in a chair
  • Step-up workouts
  • Bird dog exercises
  • Lying hip bridges
  • Side-lying circles


You can also feel powerful and strong again by using dumbbells. There’s a reason that lifting heavy items is a tried-and-true workout. Strength training combats diabetes, osteoporosis, and back pain while helping with weight management – just make sure that you don’t lift anything too heavy and find some dumbbells that are right for you. Dumbbell strength training exercises that you can try include:

  • Bent-over rows
  • Triceps extensions
  • Bicep curls
  • Overhead presses
  • Front raises

Exercise machines 

Exercise machines, such as bikes, treadmills, and ellipticals, can also be safe, effective workout tools for aging when made and used properly. Be careful to follow all operating instructions and look for equipment with:

  • Long handrails
  • Variable cushioning
  • Steep incline settings to reduce the chances of injury
  • An emergency stop cord if there is an emergency or risk of injury

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