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Fun and engaging exercises for seniors

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Posted on May 30th, 2018 by Teri Dreher, under Long Term Care, Patient Tools, Take Charge, Tips & Resources

Exercise is important at any age

When I was a kid, I loved working out. I would even wake up early to “exercise” with my dad. Of course to a 6 year old, what that really meant was goofing off and moving around a lot. Still, those early sessions of working up a sweat taught me the value of exercise. It was a fun way to bond with people close to me, and it made me feel good.

My teenage years and early twenties were a little different. Exercise became more about competition. While exercise for competition can be a great motivator, it can also lead to burnout and disdain for what was once fun. Unfortunately, there’s never really a point in life where a person should quit working out. As I get older, and see my friends and family members doing the same, I’m reminded all the time of how important it is to properly exercise, for both physical and mental health.

For seniors, exercise is essential for healthy aging

I’ve been lucky enough to grow up around exercise role models. Having a father who raised me to love sports has helped me tremendously. Similarly, my grandma always prioritized her swimming and tennis. As I’ve watched them age, I’ve picked up on relatively easy (and important) exercises to help age well. Here are my 5 favorites and the health benefits that accompany them:

1. Swimming (or really any aquatic movements) 

Being in the water is great for your body. It strengthens your muscles and helps maintain healthy lungs, heart, and weight. What makes it great for seniors is that it keeps your heart rate up, but takes impact stress off your body. The bonus part here is that swimming is also really fun.

2. Modified practice push-ups

Even as a kid who loved sports and exercise, I always hated push-ups. So if you’re reading this and thinking, “no way” hear me out. For seniors with lower muscle mass or anyone just starting to exercise, the modified push-up is a great place to start. There are different variations for different fitness levels, but my favorite is with a standing wall push-up. Face a blank wall and stand about an arm’s length away. Lean forward, and press your palms flat against the wall. Bend your arms and slowly bring your upper body toward the wall, hold for a moment, and push yourself back until your arms are straight again. Try to do reps of 10, just be careful to not push yourself too hard.

3. Leg raises

For me, the easier the exercise the better. If I’m able to work out while watching TV or reading a book, I’m a happy camper. Leg raises are great for this. Plus, leg raises reap extreme benefits for hips, thighs, and lower back muscles — all areas of the body that are at risk with aging. To do a leg raise, just stand straight with your arms holding onto a chair, and take turns extending your legs in a straight line to the side.

4. Walking

Walking is great. It gives you easy exercise and it takes you places! For seniors living at home, this yields just as many psychosocial benefits as it does physical. Depending on where you live, try to push yourself to walk. If you’re going somewhere super nearby, consider walking instead of driving. The benefits are abundant and will make you feel good.

5. Biking

Biking is another wonderful way to get outside. You can do it alone, or with friends. If you don’t have a bike to go outdoors, indoor cycling is a great alternative. Biking is a low impact exercise, so it’s perfect for people with joint pain or osteoporosis. It builds strength and is another one that makes you feel great.


As always, feel free to contact North Shore Patient Advocates with any questions, concerns, or comments!

With over 36 years of clinical experience in Critical Care nursing, home based health care and expertise as a cardiovascular nurse clinician, Teri is well acquainted with the complexities of the modern healthcare system. She has served as a nursing leader, mentor, educator, and consistent patient advocate throughout her career in some of the best hospitals across the country. Her passion to keep the patient at the center of the model of nursing care led her to incorporate NShore Patient Advocates, LLC in 2011, serving clients throughout the northern suburbs of Chicago.

For a no-cost 30 minute initial consultation, please call 847-612-6684 or click here to fill out our online callback request form.