Bodyweight Exercises for Seniors
Before we talk about older adults getting a good workout through bodyweight exercises for seniors, let’s all agree on just one well-known, extensively researched, pretty much immutable fact: Exercise is good for you.
And exercise is good for ALL of you — your heart, lungs, circulatory system, bones, muscles, skin, brain … you get the idea. Not only that, but exercise can make you feel happier, reduce your risk of depression, help you lose weight, increase your energy, reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your sleep, and even reduce pain levels.
People at every age and of every physical ability can benefit from exercise, especially older adults. There are so many exercises tailored just for seniors, along with senior-specific exercise equipment and classes targeted exclusively at them, all designed to provide safe, effective workouts.
At this point, you might be thinking, “OK, OK, fine! I’m a senior! Exercise is good for me! But I don’t have space in my home for exercise systems and fitness equipment. I don’t have time in my busy day for home workouts. I don’t want to drive back and forth to the gym. I don’t have enough money to buy all the fancy fitness things.”
But you have your body.
That’s right. Bodyweight workouts mean your body is the ultimate gym. In terms of exercises for seniors, your body is arguably the best workout tool you may ever have. After all, it’s the one piece of fitness equipment you take everywhere you go. All you need is a little floor space. Your body doesn’t require a membership, and you can use it whenever you want.
Bodyweight exercises for seniors in particular are beneficial because they help build functional strength and increase stability, both of which seniors need to help reduce their fall risk. And there are lots of bodyweight exercises for seniors that are fun, easy on your joints and, best of all, effective.
So if you’re still reading this article while sitting on a couch, what are you waiting for? Stand up, stretch out a little, and let’s get moving!
Bodyweight exercises for seniors: first, your upper body
Stand about 2 feet away from the wall. Put your hands against it at shoulder height and shoulder-width apart. Keep your body in a straight line as you bend your elbows diagonally to your sides to lower your chest to the wall. Let your heels come off the floor. Pause, then slowly press through your hands to straighten your elbows and return to start. Do two to three sets of eight to 12 reps, resting 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
You know where this one is going. Put your palms flat on the ground and out your toes on the ground so that your body forms a plank. You can have your hands below your shoulders or just slightly farther out. Bend at the elbows until they reach 45 degrees and push back up. If this is too much, keep your knees on the floor until you’re strong enough to move to the classic pushup position.
Use a bench or chair for a supported tricep dip. Put your hands on the edge of the bench or chair with your fingers facing forward, starting with straight arms. Put your legs out in front of the chair, either bent (this is a more supported variation) or straight (less supported and more difficult). Ensure your lower back almost touches the chair and uses your triceps to lower your body toward the floor. Once the angle of your arms reaches 90 degrees, come back up.
Bodyweight exercises for seniors: Now, your core
Let’s start off with a classic. Lie faceup with knees bent and hands behind your head. Inhale, and as you exhale, draw your belly button in toward your spine. Press your lower back into the floor and lift your upper back off the floor and slightly forward. Lower to return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do 15-20 reps three times.
Lower abdominal raised knee-in
Lie faceup with your arms along your sides, with your palms down and just under lower back and buttocks. Press the small of your back against the floor and extend your legs, keeping heels about 3 inches above the floor. Keeping your lower back against the floor, lift your left knee toward your chest. Your right leg should remain hovering above the floor. Hold, then straighten your left leg to return to the starting position. Repeat with your right leg.
Lie faceup and place your hands behind your ears. Lift legs to tabletop position (90-degree angle). Press your lower back into the floor and crunch forward until your shoulders are off the floor. With your toes pointed down, lower your right foot as far as you can without lifting your back off the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat with your left leg.
Lie faceup with your legs extended, toes pointed, and hands tucked under glutes to support the lower back. Lift both legs a few inches off the floor and alternately kick legs up and down.
Bodyweight exercises for seniors: Finally, your lower body
Hip-hinging or squatting movements are a staple of daily life: getting into and out of chairs, bending down to pick something up, using the toilet, etc. That’s why this is one exercise all older adults should learn and continue doing as long as they can.
Stand tall with your feet shoulder- to hip-width apart. Hold your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder level. From here, push your hips back, and bend your knees to slowly lower your body into a squat, not letting your knees cave in as you do so. Pause, then push through your heels to slowly return to starting position. That’s one rep. Perform two to three sets of eight to 12 reps total, resting 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
Stand in front of a step. Start with a low step, increasing the height for a challenge. If you like, perform the move next to a wall for support. Set your left foot on the step, push down through your heel, and lift yourself up until your leg is straight. Step down. That’s one rep. Perform six to eight reps or as many as you comfortably can, then repeat on the opposite side. That’s one set. Do two to three sets, resting 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
Stand with your back 1 to 2 feet away from the wall with your feet under your hips. Lean your buttocks, back, shoulders, arms and head against the wall. Bend your knees and lower your body to nearly 90 degrees. Hold that position for three counts and raise back up. Perform two sets of 10 twice a day.
The best bodyweight exercise for seniors: walking into a Retirement Center Management community
Yes, walking is a great bodyweight exercise for seniors — and what could be better than walking through the doors to your new senior living community? We have communities in North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, so you might be surprised how easy it is to find one close to you.
We’ll help you get started. Just contact us, and we’ll tell you about our communities. We’ll also offer insight into our services and amenities, which absolutely include fitness opportunities. Let’s talk!