Workout Plan for Seniors

Workout Plan for Seniors

Aging is something that is inevitable. However, with the increase in medical alert system technology and research in the medical field, it is more common to see individuals living well into their 80s, 90s, and even 100s. However, in order to age in a healthy way, exercise, diet, and a healthy lifestyle are essential. Even when you’re older, regular physical activity is crucial – in fact, it is even more important than during your younger years, and there are many reasons why.

Why Is Physical Activity Crucial for Seniors

There is a lot of talk going around about why regular physical activity is important when you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, and so on, but not as much about why seniors should exercise regularly – and that’s a shame because exercising can be extremely beneficial for the older members of the community. Below, you will find a few reasons as to why.

Lower Fall Risk

Did you know that one in every three adults aged 65 years and older falls each year and that falls are the leading cause of injury in the United States [1]? Not only do falls cause billions of dollars in healthcare costs every year, but many senior adults place themselves at serious health risk with each fall, which suggests that balance or muscular issues may be at fault.

Lower Risk of Other Health Complications

In addition to falls being a major problem among senior adults, there are many other health problems that surface in older age. Hypertension affects over 63 percent of senior adults and this figure jumps even further once they reach 75 years of age. Obesity affects one in three seniors, diabetes is another issue for many individuals, and arthritis affects at least 50 million Americans. Exercise can help with lowering the risks of those health problems appearing – for example, regular physical activity makes your heart stronger, increases your general strength and flexibility, and helps with joint pains, which are very common among older individuals.

Increased Independence

Once you start aging, you’re slowly losing the ability to do certain things on your own. However, exercising regularly can help elders maintain it, allowing them to continue doing everyday activities such as bathing, walking, cooking, or even using the restroom independently.

Increased Energy Levels

This is probably a no-brainer. When you’re not exercising, your energy levels are low, as there’s nothing that would affect them in a positive way. Physical activity releases endorphins, which are crucial in lowering stress levels, improving the quality of your sleep, and, just in general, making you feel a lot better and more energetic.

Safe and Effective Exercises for Seniors

Seniors can’t do all of the exercises people in their prime can, which is why it’s important that the ones they choose to do are adapted to their abilities. A personal trainer will be able to prepare a special workout containing exercises for seniors – however, some prefer to work out independently.

That’s why, listed below, is a workout program that will help you maintain the highest level of functioning possible, no matter your age.

  • Warm-up. Warm-ups are important in any age group but are even more crucial for seniors.  The warm-up should last about 10 minutes and should include light cardio, range of motion, and activities that lightly elevate the heart rate.
  • Treadmill Walking. If you do this at home, you can substitute a treadmill for marching in place.  Start with a brisk 10-minute walk at a flat grade. Your brisk walk should have you challenged enough to where it’s not a simple walk in the park, but at the same time, it shouldn’t be intense enough that it makes it difficult for you to breathe – it’s all about finding the golden mean.Your breathing should appear to be a little faster and you might even have a little sweat on your forehead.
  • Sit-to-stands. Part of senior training involves functional exercise. The most functional exercise around is the sit-to-stand. Start in a seated position, feet shoulder width, and hands across your chest. Attempt to move from a seated position to a standing position without using your hands or arms. Return to a seated position without using your hands or arms for assistance. Repeat this for a total of three sets of 10 and only do what your body is capable of.
  • Toe Stands. Toe standing is great for balance and it is a great way to work the ankles and calf muscles. Complete about three sets of 15-20 reps to get a great lower leg workout. If you don’t feel confident enough to do them with no assistance, you can perform this exercise using a chair or a wall for support.
  • Single-Leg Stands. Part of working balance involves standing on one foot for a certain amount of time. Two or three sets of 20 seconds for each foot/leg will surely help you practice and work on your balance.  If this becomes easy, close one eye while standing on one foot.
  • Tandem Walking. A tandem walk can be difficult. It involves taking steps with one foot out in front of the other down a straight line (this has been seen as a field sobriety test).  Work on this type of walking to help maintain proper balance and to work the vestibular system.
  • Abdominal and core strength exercises. Abdominal and core strength is a crucial element in any training, but it is especially critical in the senior adult population. Good core strength will help prevent spinal issues, and it can even help keep the lower back healthy and free from pain. Lower back pain is quite prevalent in older members of society, so make sure to keep the core strong.
  • Stretching. Any workout needs a sufficient stretching routine and this is no different in the senior population. A gentle range of motion or stretching routine working every joint is highly recommended to help maintain a high range of motion. In addition, proper stretching will help muscles and muscle groups from becoming too tight, which could cause strain.

Other Exercises for Seniors

Here are some more exercises that can be added to an exercise plan for seniors to improve their health:

Wall Push-Ups

Stand in front of the wall, more or less at arm’s length. Put your hands flat on the wall so that they’re a bit further than your shoulders. Take a step back while keeping your legs straight. Make sure that your weight is centered on the balls of your feet. Slowly lower your body to the wall by bending your elbows and push away, returning to the original position.

Dead Bugs

Lie down on the floor, keeping your shoulders and low back flat. Lift your hands so that they’re over your shoulders. Lift your legs and bend your knees so that they’re at a 90 degrees angle. Exhale. Slowly lower the opposite arm and leg (so left arm and right leg and vice versa) and hover them over the floor. Return to the original position.

Glute Bridge

Another exercise great for seniors is the gluten bridge. Lie down on your back, with your knees bent and feet flat. Place your arms at your sides, and drive your hips up, creating a line out of your shoulders, knees and hips. Squeeze your glutes and return to the original position.

Hip Flexor Stretch

To do this exercise, you need to lie down on your back, preferably on your bed or somewhere that allows you to have one of your legs hanging off the surface. Hug the leg that is not hanging to your chest, and hold for 30 seconds. Lower the leg and repeat the exercise on the opposite leg.

Best Sports for Seniors

There are many sports that seniors can enjoy that will improve their overall health. Here are some of them:

  • walking
  • swimming
  • yoga
  • tennis
  • golf
  • croquet
  • walking soccer

Exercises Seniors Should Avoid

As mentioned, there are certain things that seniors shouldn’t do as they might bring them more harm than good, putting unnecessary strain on them. Some of those exercises include deadlifts, squats using weights or dumbbells, HIIT, rock climbing, and leg presses, among others.

The Bottom Line

Exercise is important for people of all ages, but it is even more crucial for seniors. It allows them to stay in good shape, which can help in maintaining the ability to do everyday tasks independently – not to mention that it improves the overall health of a person.

The easiest way to create a perfect workout plan for seniors is to hire a personal trainer – thanks to years of experience, they’ll be able to create a routine that is exactly what a specific person needs. However, not everyone can and wants to do it – thankfully, we live in the age of the internet.

There are plenty of simple exercises for seniors, as you can see above – truthfully, most exercises will do just fine no matter what age a person is. That is, as long as an exercise does not put unnecessary strain on them.



About the Author

, Celebrity Personal Trainer and Fitness & Nutrition Expert headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ. He specializes in helping men and women achieve weight loss, muscle building, toning and other customized fitness & nutrition programs to create a Healthy Lifestyle. James offers private luxury personal training, 12-week custom workout plans, and personalized nutrition meal plans. Follow on Google+.

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