We all want to age gracefully. One of the ways to do it is to stay active later in life. But many people aren’t sure what a good workout routine for older adults consists of.
There are plenty of studies out there that find older adults who exercise benefit tremendously.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of the reasons you should stay active as an older adult include:
- Reducing the risk of falling and fracturing bones by improving balance
- Decreasing the risk of dying from coronary heart disease and of developing high blood pressure, colon cancer and diabetes
- Maintaining healthy bones, muscles and joints
Despite knowing the benefits physical activity provide, you may be unsure of what types of exercises to do and how often you should do them. So let’s look at a sample workout routine for older adults to get you started.
Putting Together a Workout Routine for Older Adults
Good workout routines for older adults start with a conversation with your doctor. Your doctor may have some advice on the types of exercise programs you can try or that you should or shouldn’t be doing. You can also ask if there are any concerns about your medications or an old injury.
Both men and women benefit from a fitness program, but if you’re a woman, you may have different questions for your doctor. That’s why it’s important to have the conversation first, then put your workout routine together—especially if you’re an older adult.
Workout Routine for Older Adults: Weight Training
Your exercise routine should consist of both aerobic and resistance or weight training. Let’s focus on strength training first. We’re not going for muscle mass here. You don’t need a lot of weight to benefit. You’re just looking for good exercises for seniors that you can implement into your routine.
The experts at bodybuilding.com have put together a sample workout routine for older adults that can help you build strength. Keep in mind, this is not something that is set in stone. Some of these exercises may work for you, and others may not. Their recommendations include:
- Dumbbell Squats: two sets of 8-10 reps
- Good Mornings: two sets of 8-10 reps
- Dumbbell Shoulder Shrugs: two sets of 8-10 reps
- Cable Curl: two sets of 8-10 reps
- Triceps Pushdown: two sets of 8-10 reps
- Chest Press: two sets of 8-10 reps
- Leg Extension: two sets of 8-10 reps
- Overhead Machine Press: two sets of 8-10 reps
- Pushups: two sets of 8-15 reps
- Lat Pulldown: two sets of 8-10 reps
- Dumbbell Lunges: two sets of 8-10 reps (for both legs)
- Hyperextensions: two sets of 8-10 reps
- Abdominal Crunch Machine: two sets of 8-10 reps
- Seated Cable Row: two sets of 8-10 reps
- Leg Press: two sets of 8-10 reps
- Incline Chest Press: two sets of 8-10 reps
The links will take you to images of what each exercise looks like. It’s best to do your routines every other day for about 30 minutes. Ask your doctor to be sure.
You fill the other days with cardiovascular exercises. Remember to work on your upper body and lower body. A total body workout routine for older adults is really what you’re looking for.
Workout Routine for Older Adults: Aerobic Training
When it comes to aerobic exercises, one of the most common workout routines for older adults is walking. And it’s a good one. Just walking 30 minutes a day can do things like:
- Improve your mood
- Maintain your waistline
- Reduce your risk for chronic diseases
Other good cardiovascular exercises for older adults include:
- Stationary bike
- Elliptical machine
The National Institute on Aging also has some great suggestions. It promotes the Go4Life program that aims to keep older adults active.
If you haven’t exercised before, you may have to work up to 30 minutes. But every little bit you do in the beginning will have a positive impact. Still, always talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise routine, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while.
If you’re concerned about developing health issues as you get older, our guide “The Most Concerning Health Issues for Older Adults” may help you avoid them. In it you’ll learn the disease that affects 25 percent of older adults and what kills an estimated 81 percent of adults over the age 65.