Exercise Programs for Seniors

As people age, their bones, muscles and underlying tissue weaken, resulting in decreased strength, energy, and impaired mobility. Inactivity may increase these effects of aging. Exercise and physical activity can be beneficial to older adults and can help to increase strength, improve balance and possibly delay or prevent diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis and heart disease.

Benefits of Exercise

In addition to preventing or delaying certain diseases, exercise may help seniors to improve their strength and mobility which can help them to remain independent. Additional benefits may include:

  • Reduced depression
  • Increased energy
  • Improved balance which can lessen the risk of falls

Remaining active on a daily basis can provide the most benefits to older adults. Physical activity should be part of a daily routine for older adults.

Exercise Options

While the types of exercise that seniors engage in may vary, the goal of any exercise program is to improve:

  • Strength
  • Endurance
  • Balance
  • Flexibility

Activities that keep individuals moving may include walking, swimming, bike riding, yoga or exercise classes targeted at seniors. Strength training programs for older adults can target certain muscles of the body or improve overall strength, and usually aim to gradually restore lost strength without too much exertion. Stretching exercises may improve flexibility. A physical therapist or trainer may create a customized exercise plan that focuses on improving balance and increasing endurance.

Muscles should always be stretched and warmed-up before any activity. It is important to start slowly and gradually increase any activity. Before beginning an exercise regimen, individuals should always consult with their physician.

Additional Resources