Senior residents practice chair exercises.

Starting a Senior Exercise Program: What You Need to Know

You already know exercise is one of the keys to healthy aging, but if you’ve slipped out of the habit of regular physical activity, you may be having a hard time motivating yourself to get started again. Here are some ways to approach a senior exercise program that will help get you moving.

Get Inspired

If you need a nudge to help you get started, the many health benefits of a senior exercise program can be an excellent source of motivation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular physical activity can help you:

  • Maintain independence as you get older
  • Reduce the risk of certain diseases
  • Support mental health
  • Lower the risk of falls
  • Manage symptoms associated with arthritis
  • Maintain bone, muscle and joint health

Set Yourself Up for Success

Before starting a senior exercise program, it’s a good idea to check in with your health care provider. They can help you assess your fitness level and advise you about adjusting your fitness regimen to accommodate any health conditions you have.

You’ll also want to make sure you have the right footwear. Sneakers that fit properly and provide adequate support can help you avoid injuries.

Identify Your Goals

The CDC recommends that older adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, plus 2 days a week of strength training and 3 days per week of activities that improve balance. You’ll know you’re doing moderate-intensity activity if you’re breathing harder and your heart is beating faster, but you’re still able to talk.

Start Slowly

If you haven’t exercised in a while, give yourself permission to start where you are. Some activity is better than none, so rather than overwhelming yourself with a grueling workout regimen, try a 10-minute walk or a beginner-friendly fitness class. You’ll be more likely to stick with your routine if you don’t dread it. As you build stamina and confidence, you can slowly increase your activity level and the amount of time you spend exercising.

Vary Your Routine

Keep your workout routine fresh by trying different types of exercise. Engaging in a variety of activities can help you work different muscle groups, avoid overuse injuries, and prevent you from getting bored and giving up. Plus, you’ll be able incorporate the CDC-recommended aerobic, strength and balance training.

If you’re looking for ways to spice up your routine, consider these options:

  • Yoga or tai chi: Low-impact and gentle on your joints, these mind-body practices can reduce stress, improve flexibility, strength and balance, and lead to better sleep.
  • Swimming: Another gentle activity, swimming laps or participating in an aquacise class improves strength, stamina, balance, coordination and cardiovascular health.
  • Walking: So common we often forget it’s exercise, walking is the quintessential moderate-intensity activity. Add more steps to your daily routine to enjoy benefits to mind, body and spirit. If the weather is inclement and you’re not up for walking the mall, take a two-mile walk in your home by following along with videos like this one.
  • Bodyweight training: No need to own free weights or have an expensive gym membership. You can improve strength by doing exercises that use your body weight to provide resistance and build muscle. Try activities like chair squats, wall pushups or straight leg raises.
  • Resistance bands: Inexpensive and beginner-friendly, resistance bands can improve core strength and stability. Follow along with online videos to learn more about strength training with resistance bands.
  • Dancing: Uplifting, energizing and good for balance and cardiovascular health, dancing as a form of exercise can be as simple as listening to your favorite song and moving to the beat. Or follow along with senior-friendly dance videos.
  • Step into an Active Lifestyle at Trillium Woods

    With dance classes, strength and cardio training, a pool, and outdoor paths for hiking and biking, Trillium Woods provides ample opportunities for residents to enjoy the health-boosting benefits of an active lifestyle. In addition, our dedicated Health & Wellness Navigator can help you set and meet your wellness goals. Contact us to learn more about our wellness programs and the rewards of a maintenance-free lifestyle backed by priority access to a full continuum of on-site care.