Exercise for seniors: 6 tips on how to get started

Published: Monday, August 7, 2023
Geriatric Medicine

Exercise for older adults is great for physical and mental health. It can lead to a longer, happier and healthier life!

How much activity do older adults need?

The best rule of thumb is to get at least 30 minutes of movement per day.

Regular exercise:

  • increases mobility and balance
  • enhances energy
  • prevents disease
  • helps with weight loss
  • improves sleep
  • increases lean muscle mass
  • reduces chronic conditions
  • increase in independence as a senior

Popular exercise options for seniors:

  • walking
  • bodyweight workouts
  • resistance band workouts
  • chair yoga
  • water aerobics
  • pilates
  • dumbbell strength training

The most important thing is to pick a form of exercise that is interesting and enjoyable for you!

6 Tips to Get Started with Exercise:

  1. Talk to your doctor
    Ask your doctor for a physical exam. This is the time to find out if you have any medical conditions that can affect your exercise routine. Your doctor may also be able to offer advice on what exercise is right for you.
  2. Keep track of your progress
    Tracking your progress can be helpful because it’s unlikely that you will see immediate results. A few tools that you can use to track your progress are an activity tracker, a stopwatch or timer and a journal.
  3. Start exercising slowly
    It’s important to stretch before and after every exercise session. Don’t be afraid to take it slow. For example, if you are walking, walk slowly for a few minutes and then pick up the pace.
  4. Fit exercise into your day
    Thirty minutes may seem like a long time, especially if you’re new to exercise, but incorporate small changes such as, take the stairs instead of the elevator or take a walk during your lunch break. Finding a buddy to exercise with can also turn your workout into something to look forward to and can help hold you accountable.
  5. You know yourself best
    Self-assess to see if you are working out effectively. Use the “talking test”. If you are performing an exercise that is increasing your heart rate while also being able to carry out a conversation with the person next to you, you are in good shape.
  6. Don’t forget proper hydration and diet
    Drink plenty of water and keep note of your eating habits.

Next steps

To learn more about exercise for seniors, talk to your doctor. If you’re looking for a geriatrician, schedule an appointment with Dr. Krishna Yarlagadda, or search for another doctor who fits your needs.