Senior man and woman stretching before exercising at a yoga class.

At-Home Exercises for Seniors

Make a Move!

Getting outside for a walk and a change of scenery while social distancing is important for our physical and mental health. But if you prefer to stay indoors, you don’t want to be spending that time on the couch.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthy adults ages 65 and over should include about 20 minutes of moderate activity in their day. Exercise for seniors could be as simple as swimming, jogging or brisk walking to work up a sweat, but during social distancing you may prefer to stay home. If you aren’t quite ready to resume outdoor exercises, we’ve put together a variety of simple movements you can do in your living room to help you maintain your strength, flexibility and balance. This short workout includes chair exercises for seniors and seated exercises for seniors. Do each exercise for a minute or two to achieve your 20-minute goal for the day.

Clear some space in your living room and put on some motivational music. Grab a sturdy chair and a couple of hand weights. Are you ready? Let’s begin!

  1. Warmup — Mobility

Start any exercise for seniors with a short warmup. Seated in a chair, gently roll your head from side to side, front and back, and around in a circle. Next, roll your shoulders in circles; up and down, and forward and backwards. Place your hands on your hips and keep your torso straight, slowly twist around to look to your right side, and then your left. Next, gently bend forward at the waist to touch your toes and sit back up. Finally, first with your right leg then your left, raise a leg until it’s parallel with the floor. Flex and point your toes, rolling your ankle in a circle, then gently return your foot to the floor. Repeat  this entire sequence for one minute. 

  1. Warmup — Balance

This balancing movement is a simple chair exercise for seniors. Hold on to the back of a chair with one hand. Lift your right foot up and balance on your left foot. Hold for 15 seconds and switch feet. Continue for one minute.

  1. Walking in Place

Walking in place is subtly different from how you would walk normally. Lower each foot to the floor toe first and roll back to the heel. As you step in place, let your arms swing naturally and breathe comfortably through your nose.

  1. Warmup — Arm Sweeping

Hold on to the back of a chair and imagine you’re standing in the center of a clock. Sweep one arm from the 12 to the 6 position. Switch arms and repeat on the other side. Look straight ahead the whole time.  

  1. Strength — Reverse Leg Raises

Hold on to the back of a chair. Slowly raise one leg behind you to a count of three, without bending your knee or pointing your toes. Hold for a count of three and bring your leg back down. Repeat with the other leg.

  1. Strength — Side Leg Raise

Hold on the back of a chair. Raise one leg out to your side to the count of three. Hold for a count of three and bring your leg back down. Repeat with the other leg.

  1. Strength and Balance — Toe Lifts

Hold on to the back of a chair. Raise yourself up on your toes as high as you can go for a count of three. Pause. Lower yourself for a count of three.

  1. Strength — Wall Pushups

Stand arm’s length from a wall. Place your palms on the wall at shoulder height. Keep feet flat on the ground as you bring your body forward by bending your elbows. Gently push yourself up until your arms are straight. Remember to keep your midsection tight.

  1. Strength — Seated Shoulder Raise

Seated exercises for seniors are recommended for those affected by dizziness or with poor balance. Sit on a chair with a dumbbell or heavy soup can in each hand. Keep your midsection tight and shoulders down. Raise both arms from your sides to an overhead position for a count of three. Pause and lower your arms for a count of three. 

  1. Strength — Bicep Curls

Remain seated on your chair with the weights in your hands. Place your arms at your sides with palms facing outward. Keep your elbows tucked at your sides as you curl the weights up to your shoulders, wrists straight. Do this on a count of three and pause. Slowly lower your arms to the starting position.

  1. Physical Coordination — Flamingos

Stand tall next to your chair with feet together and arms at your sides. Keep your midsection braced. Lift your right arm over your head. Then lift your right foot off the floor. Hold for ten seconds. Return to your starting position and repeat for the other side.

  1. Balance — Head Turns

Hold on lightly to your chair. Keep your body still and turn your head slowly to the right, turn your head to the left, and then turn back to the center. Repeat four or five times, more quickly each time. Next, look to the right, move your feet and bring your body to the right. Then look to the center and bring yourself back to center. Then repeat the action for the left side.

  1. Balance — Swaying

Stand next to your chair. Keep your body straight, feet shoulder width apart with arms by your side. Slowly sway in a circle, going in one direction for about 30 seconds. Switch directions. If you feel dizzy, stop and hold on to your chair.

  1. Flexibility — Hands and Fingers

Stand arm’s length from a wall, with palms flat on the wall and fingers facing up. Keep your arms straight and walk your fingers up as far as they can go. Walk them back down. Repeat a few times. Return to the starting position with fingers facing down. Press gently into your palms for a count of 10. Finally, move away from the wall and touch your hands behind your back. Try to hold your right elbow with your left hand and pull your shoulders back slightly. Repeat on the other side. 

  1. Stretch — Arms and Shoulders

Remain standing or sit in your chair. Reach your right arm across your body. Place your right elbow in the crook of your left arm and gently pull your right arm closer. Hold to the count of 10, release, and repeat on the other side.

  1. Stretch — Side Stretch

Sit or stand and raise your arms overhead with fingers interlaced. Stay tall as you gently lean to the left and hold for a count of 10. Return to center and repeat on the other side.

  1. Stretch — Hamstring Stretch

Sit in your chair with one leg straight out in front of you. Without rounding your back, gently bend forward until you feel a stretch in the back of your hamstring. Hold for a count of 10. Release, switch legs, and repeat.

You’re all done! Use this set of exercises as a framework for a daily workout, adapting it for variety. Nowadays it’s easier than ever to put together your own routine, with tips and information on indoor exercises for seniors online. And if you’re looking for even more easy-to-do exercise for seniors, YouTube videos can be a great source of inspiration that feel like an exercise class. 

Let Us Help
Sticking with an exercise routine is hard even during the best of times. And exercise is really only one part of aging well. At WhiteStone, we offer beautiful outdoor spaces where it’s safe to walk, interact with others and enjoy nature while social distancing.  We also offer wellness programming for every facet of your health plus the guidance to help you achieve your goals. With what’s going on in the world today, keeping fit and healthy — physically, mentally, emotionally and socially — is more important than ever. Find out how WhiteStone can help you continue to thrive at 336-904-3686.