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Aerobic activity helps older adults burn off calories, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, maintain joint movement, improve heart health, and increase energy levels overall. Building endurance may take some time, depending on your health and activity level. Try starting with 5-minute cardio sessions a few days a week to raise your heart rate. From there, work toward eventually completing 30 minutes of aerobic activity on most days. Moderate endurance exercise for seniors includes walking briskly, tennis, and swimming; more intense aerobic activities include hiking and running.
Research suggests that as many as 14% of males and 18% of females over age 55 are depressed. It has been documented, in younger adults, that exercise can alleviate symptoms of depression and even compete with the effects of antidepressant medication or psychotherapy in terms of effectiveness. Unfortunately, there is very little research on the effects of exercise on depression in older adults. What is fair to say is that exercise has a mood-elevating effect in most adults, whatever their age, even if it's not the cure for depression in the elderly. Talk to most anyone who exercises, no matter what their age, and they will report what used to be called a "feel-good" phenomenon after exercise. Whether it's from getting the heart beating or the blood pumping, from invigorating brain cells, or simply getting out in the fresh air, a good dose of exercise typically improves mood, and so is recommended for virtually everyone.
Not only do leg raises help strengthen the thigh, hip, buttocks, and lower back muscles, this type of exercise benefits balance as well. For side leg raises, stand behind a chair and hold on for better balance. Lift one leg out to the side, keeping it completely aligned from heel to hip, while maintaining a straight back and a slight bend in the supporting leg, then slowly lower the leg. For back leg raises, use the same chair for balance and slowly lift one leg behind you (without leaning forward), hold for a moment, and lower the leg. Do not bend the lifted leg or point the toes, and keep the standing leg slightly bent. For each exercise, complete two sets of at least 10 reps for each leg, alternating legs between sets.
For aerobic exercise: Walking, dancing (when's the last time you took a ballroom-dancing class?), biking, and swimming are all good options. You can also try exercise videos. Collage Video is a good resource. They have lots of videos for individuals of all ages (search their site for "seniors"). Also check out your local senior center, rec center, Y, or local fitness center for classes that are appropriate for you. Many centers offer exercise classes for seniors. They're out there if you look.
While retirement may seem like a great time to relax and wind down, did you know the exact opposite may be much more beneficial for you if you’re a senior? It turns out that the benefits of strength training for seniors are vast, and if you’re not including some resistance work in your workout routine, then you are certainly missing out when it comes to aging gracefully!
Step-ups: Stand in front of a staircase and step up with your right foot, then up with your left, then back down with your right, then back down with your left. Repeat 10 times. If you need a little support, hold on gently to the railing, or better yet, just touch the wall with your finger tip and you'll be amazed at how much balance that gives you.

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Stork: One of the simplest exercises to improve balance is to stand on one leg, keep your arms at your side with your shoulders relaxed, and try to balance for 30 seconds. Repeat one to two times with each leg every day. Over the next few weeks, try to work up to two minutes. One hint: Try not to "grab" the floor with the toes of the foot that's on the ground. Relax your muscles, and you'll have more success.To make the stork more challenging, try swinging your arms like you're running. That will throw you slightly off balance and you will need to make corrections to maintain your balance. This can also help strengthen your core and abdomninal muscle groups that are involved in balancing. You can hold bottles of water in each hand for even more of a challenge. Another way to make the stork more challenging is to fold a bath towel over several times so it's five to six layers thick. Now place it on the floor and stand in the center of it. It will be unstable because it's soft, but that's the idea because you want to really work hard to improve your balance and strengthen your muscles. And for the most challenge of all, try doing the stork with your eyes closed.

Stability is the newest class designed to help you become stronger and improve balance. The movements taught in class focus on specific exercises to improve strength and power around the ankle, knee and hip joints, while improving your reaction time. This class is designed for fall prevention and is suitable for nearly every fitness level. It can be adapted depending on the skill of individual participants. A chair may be used for balance and support....

There's good news that should serve as an encouragement to all of us when it comes to fitness, walking endurance, and health. In a classic study of walking and mortality in 700 men enrolled in the Honolulu Heart Program, the mortality rate among the men who walked less than one mile per day was nearly twice the rate of those who walked more than two miles per day. (Studies of women showed similar results). In another study, data collected on more than 41,000 men and women from 1990 to 2001 were analyzed to find the relationship between walking and mortality. It was reported that men and women who walked 30 minutes or more per day during the study period had fewer deaths than those who walked less than 30 minutes. Interestingly, even men and women who smoked or were overweight were protected from early death if they walked more than 30 minutes per day.
Research has found that bone mass can be increased in older women by physical activity. To determine whether physical activity can actually reduce the risk for broken hips, a large multicenter study was done. Nearly 10,000 women over 65 years of age were evaluated. The results of this important prospective (forward looking) study appeared in the July 15,1998 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Senior Planet is an open forum and offers articles for information only. We welcome comments from readers, but can’t be a go-between for readers who wish to contact each other via email for any reason. Since it is impossible to vet every commenter, Senior Planet’s policy is not to publish or share commenters’ emails for any reason, even if requested.

For balance exercise: Do some or all of these exercises every day for best results. Have someone standing nearby to support you if you are concerned you might fall, especially for the ones where I suggest closing your eyes, since this is the most challenging. Speak with your doctor before doing these exercises if you have a balance disturbance or are concerned about whether it is safe for you to do them.


Many of life's limitations we place on ourselves, and we can lift those limitations at any time. If you have any doubt about this, take a look at Willie Murphy, the powerlifting granny who at 77 years old can deadlift 215 pounds. Best of all, she can lift her grandchildren, shovel her own snow, and carry her own groceries with ease — and that's what it's really all about. Strength gives you the freedom to keep living life the way you want to live it, without physical limitations. As Willie says, "It's about life. L-I-F-E!"

Remember, you are never too old to start exercising, and strength training in particular only becomes more important with age. My mom is an excellent example of this. She didn't take up strength training until the age of 74! Now, several years later, she's a testament to the fact that you can gain significant improvements in strength, range of motion, balance, bone density, and mental clarity, even if you get a late start.
It's normal to miss work life after retirement, Fulfill your needs to stay active in the workforce and make a little extra cash if you can. Becoming an intern is not just for college students. Search for interning positions online at sites like Monster, or directly contact companies you may be interested in - if it doesn't have an age or college requirement, you're able to apply.
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