Exercise and Physical Activity for Seniors: Getting Fit for Life

Exercise and Physical Activity for Seniors

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best balance exercises for seniors?

Check out these balance exercises you can do anytime, anywhere. Good balance can help you prevent falls.

I find it hard to make myself exercise. What can I do?

You’re more likely to keep going if you choose exercises you enjoy. Also, many people find that having a firm goal in mind motivates them to move ahead. Click here to set your exercise goals and make a plan.

I have arthritis. What workout routines are safe for me?

Exercise is safe for almost everyone. You can exercise even if you have a long-term condition, like heart disease, diabetes, or arthritisTry these great activities from Go4Life®.

Exercises for seniorsBob’s Story

“My wife and I have heart problems. About 2 years ago, we joined our local health club, where we do both endurance and strength training exercises. On the off days, we walk near our house. It’s been lifesaving for us.”

Bob and his wife are living proof that exercise and physical activity are good for you, no matter how old you are. In fact, staying active can help you:

  • Keep and improve your strength so you can stay independent
  • Have more energy to do the things you want to do
  • Improve your balance
  • Prevent or delay some diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis
  • Perk up your mood and reduce depression

You don’t need to buy special clothes or belong to a gym to become more active. Physical activity can and should be part of your everyday life. Find things you like to do. Go for brisk walks. Ride a bike. Dance. Work around the house. Garden. Climb stairs. Swim. Rake leaves. Try different kinds of activities that keep you moving. Look for new ways to build physical activity into your daily routine.

Four Ways to Be Active

To get all of the benefits of physical activity, try all four types of exercise— (1) endurance, (2) strength, (3) balance, and (4) flexibility.

  1. Try to build up to at least 30 minutes of activity that makes you breathe hard on most or all days of the week. Every day is best. That’s called an endurance activity because it builds your energy or “staying power.” You don’t have to be active for 30 minutes all at once. Ten minutes at a time is fine.How hard do you need to push yourself? If you can talk without any trouble at all, you are not working hard enough. If you can’t talk at all, it’s too hard.For examples of endurance exercises, watch the video below.


  1. Keep using your muscles. Strength exercises build muscles. When you have strong muscles, you can get up from a chair by yourself, lift your grandchildren, and walk through the park.Keeping your muscles in shape helps prevent falls that cause problems like broken hips. You are less likely to fall when your leg and hip muscles are strong.For an example of a strength exercise, watch the video below.

  1. Do things to help your balance. Try standing on one foot, then the other. If you can, don’t hold on to anything for support. Get up from a chair without using your hands or arms. Every now and then walk heel-to-toe. As you walk, put the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of your other foot. Your heel and toes should touch or almost touch.For an example of a balance exercise, watch the video below.


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