It doesn’t matter how old you are: exercising never stops being important. You also never reach an age where exercise isn’t beneficial to your body and health. Even for seniors, a few well-planned workouts each week, even using low-impact exercises, can positively impact your mind and transform your body.
But the truth is, senior health and fitness is different. Things like core strength to help your posture and balance exercises are maybe more important now than they were in your thirties. You may be avoiding even low-impact exercises because you don’t know which type of exercise is right for you. You might also be afraid that exercising will increase your risk of injury.
In this article, we’ll explain why exercise is so important for seniors. We’ll also break down three exercises (and challenges) you can do right from home even if you have things like joint pain or not a ton of flexibility.
<h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Why is Exercise Good for Seniors?</p></h4>
There’s a reason many doctors call exercise the best medicine a senior citizen can take. Before we dive into how exercise specifically benefits your body, let’s talk about some other reasons low-impact training will benefit you.
The science shows that exercise increases mood and decreases the risk of disease for seniors. Actually, exercise has a direct link to longevity for older people.
Many seniors are afraid to exercise because they believe it will lead to injuries. But the science actually shows the opposite-it’s more likely you’ll get injured if you don’t take care of your health and exercise<sup>1</sup>.
Suffice it to say: just because you don’t move as well as you did in your twenties doesn’t make exercising any less useful!
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<img class="img-fluid w-md-75 image-center" src="https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wm-wmade-static-media/media/public/Assets/images/senior_walking_with_walking_poles.jpg" alt="SeniorWalkingWithWalkingPoles">
<h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">What Are the Benefits of Exercise for Your Body?</p></h4>
Here are four awesome benefits of exercise for your body if you’re a senior.
<h5><p style="color: #000000">1. Maintain or Improve Strength</p></h5>
Maintaining strength is a key component for healthy aging. Past age forty, your bone density and muscle tissue starts to decline yearly<sup>2</sup>. The truth is, strength training is the best way to fight off this natural process.
<h5><p style="color: #000000">2. Improve Flexibility</p></h5>
Some people think of flexibility as only being necessary for a yoga class. But older people know otherwise! That’s because as you age, the range of motion (flexibility) in your joints tends to decrease. This usually means tight hips, shoulders, or even pain in the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/3-low-impact-exercises-for-bad-knees/"><strong>knees</strong></a> or <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/two-exercises-to-fix-back-pain/"><strong>back</strong></a>.
The truth with flexibility (and really, all elements of fitness) is this: either you use it or you lose it! Some simple, low-impact exercises each week will help maintain flexibility in your joints.
<h5><p style="color: #000000">3. Improve Posture</p></h5>
As you get older, the discs in your spine harden and lose flexibility<sup>3</sup>. This can change your posture, lead to back pain, or even result in surgery. Yikes!
When you strengthen the muscles in your core and lower back, you keep the intervertebral discs from hardening and losing flexibility. This makes your back stronger and quality of life much better!
<h5><p style="color: #000000">4. Improve Stability</p></h5>
Unfortunately, falling is one of the leading causes of injury and death for senior citizens<sup>4</sup>. This makes doing balance and stability exercises a great idea!
All three of the exercises we promote at the end of this article (yes, even the one you can do in bed) force your body’s smaller stabilizing muscles to work hard.
<h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">How Much Exercise Should an Elderly Person Do?</p></h4>
Studies vary, but many doctors believe that people ages sixty-five and up should get more than two hours of exercise per week<sup>5</sup>.
While that number seems a little high—heck, we know plenty of people in the Warrior Made community getting results from home in half that time—it does shed light on the fact that seniors do need to exercise a few days per week.
We recommend you do low-impact exercises for about twenty minutes, three times per week. Combine that with a <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-101-a-beginners-guide/"><strong>good diet</strong></a>, and you’re on the right path to healthy aging.
<h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">What Are Good Low-Impact Exercises for Seniors?</p></h4>
These three exercises are low-impact and can be done in your living room (or even in bed when you wake up in the morning). Try them out and give the ‘Senior Workout Challenge’ a shot, too.
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<h5><p style="color: #000000">1. Drinking Birds</p></h5>
We love the drinking bird exercise for seniors because it’s easily modifiable and great for people with <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/3-low-impact-exercises-for-bad-knees/"><strong>knee pain</strong></a>. It’s going to improve your posture while strengthening your shoulders and core!
To start, position your feet shoulder width apart, and place your hands behind your head (or as close as you can). Placing 90 percent of your weight in the heels, kick your butt back while maintaining a flat back. You will feel a gentle tug in your hamstrings (the back part of your leg) if you’re doing this right. See the picture above.
To return to a standing position, drive your feet through the floor and squeeze your glutes (butt muscles). At the top, really squeeze your glutes to ensure you finish the repetition.
At timestamp 3:27, Coach Tyler breaks down the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZehrAhU0h4"><strong>drinking bird’s different progressions</strong></a>. After a few weeks, you can practice the one-leg variation of this exercise for a tougher challenge!
**Pro Tip**: To really maximize this exercise, externally rotate (turn your knees and thighs out). This will ensure your hip muscles do the work, not your lower back.
**Senior Workout Challenge**: 3 sets of 20 reps, rest 1 to 2 minutes between sets.
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<h5><p style="color: #000000">2. Wall Push-ups</p></h5>
Push-ups might seem like a scary exercise for seniors, but the wall push-up is a perfect variation that can be done with any wall or stable piece of furniture.
To start, stand about two feet from a wall. Place your hands on the wall slightly lower than shoulder height.
The key to good push-ups on the wall, floor, or with furniture is to line your body up. From your feet to your head, your body should be in one straight line during the entire exercise. To do this, squeeze your glutes and belly at the same time.
At the beginning of the push-up, bend your elbows at a forty-five-degree angle. No need to get a protractor out—angle them so they point behind you instead of flaring out towards the sides. Go low enough to touch your nose to the wall, then press back up.
Coach Tyler breaks down the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZehrAhU0h4"><strong>wall push-ups</strong></a> starting at 7:50.
**Senior Workout Challenge**: 3 sets of 10 reps (or as many as you can do in one set with good form). Try it three times this week. After a few weeks, move to a stable piece of furniture (and please make sure it’s stable!).
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<img class="img-fluid w-md-75 image-center" src="https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wm-wmade-static-media/media/public/Assets/images/x_up.jpg" alt="XUp">
<h5><p style="color: #000000">3. X-Ups</p></h5>
How about an exercise in bed that can increase balance, core strength, posture, and stability? The x-up can do that!
Lying in a bed, press your lower back into the bed as if you’re trying to smash the mattress. Bring your heels off the floor and your knees towards your head, like the picture above.
Placing your hands in the air behind your head, bring your right arm to your left knee. The leg you are not touching extends forward.
The key to the exercise is this: push your hand into your knee while simultaneously driving your knee back towards your hand. This resistance will force your core muscles to work hard, adding core strength and helping improve your posture.
Coach Tyler breaks down <a target="_blank" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZehrAhU0h4"><strong>the x-up</strong></a> starting at 11:21.
**Senior Workout Challenge**: 3 sets of 10 reps, rest 1 to 2 minutes between sets. You can also try this on your living room floor if your back allows it!
<h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Wrapping Up</p></h4>
Just because you’re not twenty-eight anymore doesn’t mean exercise is not important! In fact, the science shows that seniors who exercise can increase their mental health, posture, strength, and even life expectancy! It’s for those reasons we want to encourage you to exercise a few times a week, picking smart, low-impact exercises that can still be beneficial to your body.
We love exercises that promote senior health like the drinking bird, wall push-up, and x-up because they increase strength in your muscles, balance, and even posture.
We love the fact that we can work out from home, avoiding commutes to the gym, and still get results. To get more at-home, low-impact workouts no matter what age you are, check out our <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/"><strong>exercise section</strong></a> or visit <a target="_blank" href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZjFDJI4B4l16uujibduMFA/videos"><strong>Warrior Made’s YouTube channel</strong></a>.
<h5><p style="color: #000000">Resources</p></h5>
1. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3870597/">Impact of a Senior Fitness Program</a>
2. <a target="_blank" href="https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004015.htm">Aging changes in the bones - muscles - joints</a>
3. <a target="_blank" href="https://muschealth.org/medical-services/geriatrics-and-aging/healthy-aging/posture">Posture Change With Age</a>
4. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.lifeline.ca/en/resources/14-exercises-for-seniors-to-improve-strength-and-balance/">14 Exercises for Seniors to Improve Strength and Balance</a>
5. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/physical-activity-guidelines-older-adults/">Physical activity guidelines for older adults</a>