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Leaves Shadow
  • Ajita Krishnan

6 Exercises for Older Adults - Stay Strong and Fit!

Updated: Apr 22

Regular physical activity is crucial for all of us. As time passes, our biology evolves, and the reasons to stay in shape evolve as well. Research shows that exercise is particularly important for older adults. Fitness plays an essential role in bolstering the immune system and keeping our vital functions healthy. Regular exercise is proven to alleviate many lifestyle disorders and boost one's overall sense of well being. Even a few minutes of exercise in your routine can work wonders. For older adults, adhering to regular, low-intensity exercise yields the most favorable outcomes.

Here are some examples of exercises that are recommended for seniors.

Water Aerobics

Water aerobics offers a fun, safe, and effective way to enhance your strength, flexibility, balance and improve cardivascular health. Exercising in water is ideal for people with arthritis and other types of joint pain as the natural buoyancy puts less stress on joints. Additionally, water provides resistance training without the need for equipment. Water aerobics can enhance your flexibility, strength and balance with minimal stress to the body.

Find Water Aerobics sessions at Columbia Fitness and the local Sammamish YMCA.

Great water aerobics exercises for seniors include:

  • Aqua jogging

  • Flutter kicking

  • Leg lifts

  • Standing water push-ups

  • Arm curls

Chair Yoga

Many seniors are afraid to try yoga because they believe the poses may be too difficult or require too much flexibility. Luckily, there are many yoga routines designed specifically for

older adults. Chair yoga is a low-intensity exercise option that improves your flexibility and encourages better movement. Also, it doesn't contribute to muscle soreness and controls the impact on your joints. It can promote your sleep cycle, enhance blood flow, reduce mental tension, and might even help to control muscular pains. Yoga strengthens the connection between mind and body that is related to overall well-being.

Find Chair Yoga at the local Sammamish YMCA. There are many instructional videos online.

Great chair yoga exercises for seniors include:

  • Overhead stretch

  • Seated cow stretch

  • Seated cat stretch

  • Seated mountain pose

  • Seated twist

Resistance Band Training

Resistance bands are stretchy strips of rubber that add resistance to workouts while reducing stress on the muscles. These exercises can help maintain muscle mass, bone density, and joint health, crucial for preventing falls. Additionally, these exercises are ideal for strengthening your core, which improves posture, mobility, and balance.

There are many instructional videos online.

Resistance band workouts for seniors include:

  • Lateral step out

  • Leg press

  • Band pull apart

  • Triceps press

  • Bicep curl


Pilates is a popular low-impact form of exercise that was developed a century ago. In pilates exercises, breathing, alignment, concentration and core strength are emphasized. Using mats and accessories like pilates balls, it builds strength without the stress of higher-impact exercises. Pilates has been shown to improve balance, develop core strength and increase flexibility in older adults.

Pilates is offered at the Sammamish YMCA.

Some great pilates exercises for older adults include:

  • Mermaid movement

  • Side circle

  • Foot slide

  • Step up

  • Leg circle

Tai Chi

Otherwise known as meditation in motion, tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition based in martial arts. For older adults in particular, it can have significant benefits. That’s because it focuses on muscle control, stability, balance, and flexibility. Research shows that tai chi significantly reduces the risk of falling as well as the fear of falling. Research shows that tai chi may reduce anxiety and depression, and improve cognition.

Sessions in tai chi are available at the Sammamish YMCA. There are numerous instructional videos and articles online.


One of the least stressful and accessible forms of exercise is walking. For some seniors, walking is a bigger challenge than others, so distance and step goals differ from person to person. For the general population, 10,000 steps per day is advised for a healthy lifestyle, but those with difficulty walking or joint pain may settle for a smaller number as a goal. Walking promotes a healthy lifestyle, while strengthening muscles, lowering your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and colon cancer.

Ideas for walking exercises for seniors:

  • Find a moderate trail through a park

  • Find a walk-friendly race to train for

  • Walk the perimeter of a familiar building

  • Find an audiobook or a playlist for stimulation during your walk


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