7 Types of Exercises for Seniors (with Pictures!)

Reviewed and Updated by Anastasia Iliou,

Exercising is not just for weight loss. As you get older, it becomes increasingly important to keep your body active in order to keep your strength and stability. However, it also becomes harder to exercise as you age. 

Your exercise routine doesn’t have to be intense. You’re not expected to run marathons at 80 years old (though some have done it), but your doctor might recommend that you spend some time on your feet. Exercise for you can mean something as simple as taking a walk around the block.

The following are seven different types of safe exercises for seniors with pictures included. 

Senior Swimming Workouts

If you have a pool available to you, either at home or at a local fitness center, swimming exercises can be kind to older bodies. Experts especially recommend swimming exercises for those with joint pain or arthritis. 

Some fitness centers may offer swimming classes that you can join. If there aren’t any available, consider taking the time yourself to jog through the water, swim laps, or use the resistance of the water to practice leg lifts. 

In fact, certain private Medicare plans might come with a fitness program benefit. These benefits often include memberships to local fitness centers that can allow you access to free or very low-cost exercise classes. 

Seniors at a swimming class | Senior exercises | Medicare Plan Finder

Simple Yoga for Seniors

Yoga can help improve your balance, stability, and flexibility and can even reduce stress. Yoga poses don’t have to be complicated, either. 

Check out these examples of gentle yoga poses: 

gentle yoga poses | Medicare Plan Finder
gentle yoga poses | Medicare Plan Finder

You also might be able to find yoga classes offered at your local fitness center. Look for beginner-level classes or classes specifically designed for senior groups (unless you think you’re ready for advanced yoga – do what you feel comfortable with!). 

Pilates for the Elderly

Pilates exercises focus on your core strength, which can also improve your balance and stability. Pilates exercises can be easily performed at home. It includes poses like planks and sit-ups.

You can do Pilates from a mat in your local gym, or you can set up on your carpet or on your personal yoga mat at home. It does not require additional equipment!

Senior Man Doing Press Ups In Gym | Medicare Plan Finder

Senior Walking & Biking Exercises

Walking or biking for as little as 30 minutes per day can result in weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, reduced blood pressure, stronger bones, better balance, and more!

If you feel safe walking around your neighborhood, you don’t even have to go anywhere. Otherwise, you can find a pretty park, a school running track, or even a shopping mall to get your steps in. 

You could also get your daily walk in by walking your dog or strolling with your grandkids! 

If you feel comfortable, you can also try running – but don’t push yourself. 

Seniors jogging with their dog outside | Medicare Plan Finder

Chair Exercises for Seniors

Sometimes standing up for long periods of time is NOT healthy. Some people can’t walk or move too much, and that’s ok. There are still ways to exercise and safely keep your body moving.

For example, try the “seated row.” Sit in a dining chair or any chair without arms, and repeat a “rowing” motion with your arms at least 8-10 times. Repeat as many times as you feel comfortable. This repeated motion will work your upper back and chest muscles. 

You could also do knee lifts from a chair. Simply lift your knees one at a time towards your chest. Lift each leg individually at least 8-10 times. As you get stronger, you can increase the number of lifts and work on bringing your legs higher.

Prefer an even more sedentary routine? These yoga poses can be done from your chair: 

chair yoga poses | Medicare Plan Finder
Chair Yoga Poses | Medicare Plan Finder

Stretching Exercises for Seniors

Regular stretches are important as your joints age. As you age, your muscles gradually shorten and lose elasticity. While you can’t necessarily stop the aging process, you can certainly make yourself more comfortable by performing daily stretches. 

“Static” stretching lengthens your muscles and improves your range of motion. Static stretching means holding a position for 10 to 30 seconds (or even longer, if you have the patience). Static stretches can be as simple as sitting down and touching your toes for 30 seconds straight. 

Try to remember to spend a few minutes on static stretching exercises at least three to five times per week. 

Keep in mind that you should feel the stretch a little, but it shouldn’t hurt. If you find yourself in pain after a stretch, you may have pushed yourself too far, or something could be wrong. Always see your doctor if you find yourself in pain.

Happy senior women stretching while out on a run | Medicare Plan Finder

Senior Dance Classes

Not only are dance workouts more fun, but they usually work several different areas of the body. If you feel comfortable with it, finding a local dance class for seniors is a great way to move your body. 

You can join a “Zumba” class, a dance class designed for full-body workouts, or you can join a class that teaches you how to dance, like a salsa class. Even though a salsa class may not be designed as an exercise program, it certainly keeps your body moving and can still result in positive fitness results.

Senior couple dancing | Medicare Plan Finder

Medicare Fitness Coverage

If you’d like to do your workouts in group settings or would prefer to use the equipment at a gym, you might actually be able to get insurance for that. 

That’s right – private Medicare plans (Medicare Advantage) can sometimes include Medicare fitness programs. These programs can pay for your gym membership and can provide unique classes designed just for the Medicare-eligible population.

Some programs even include home fitness products, like workout DVDs and small exercise equipment.

To find out what plans in your area include a Medicare fitness benefit, call Medicare Plan Finder at 844-431-1832 or click here to send us a message. 

We can’t wait to help you!

Medicare Fitness Programs
Medicare Fitness Programs Guide

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