SF: Senior Fitness – Getting Started

Are you just starting an exercise routine?

Getting back into a routine after a break? Wanting to keep up your physical activities away from home? The 13 exercises in this sample workout can help. On our Senior Fitness Exercises page, you’ll find easy-to-follow strength, balance, and flexibility exercises that you can do anytime, anywhere. Continue reading for some important information before heading over to our Senior Fitness Exercise page.

Senior Fitness – Exercise for Life

“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.”     George Burns

One of the great things about physical activity is that there are so many ways to be active. This workout is only one of them. The secret to success is to be creative, find activities you enjoy, and keep going.

We wanted to share this sample workout from Go4Life, an outreach campaign from the National Institute on Aging at NIH. For more information visit their website: Go4Life.

Visit NIH for more materials or sign up for our weekly posts. On Monday’s we’ll send our followers Senior Fitness updates from NIH and more. We’ll feature a new exercise and helpful tips on staying active or how to help your senior family members stay active too.

Get Ready for Senior Fitness

Before you begin, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Safety always comes first.

If you haven’t had regular checkups, you might want to talk with your doctor about your workout plans. Ask if there are any reasons to change your program or adjust the exercises to do them safely. Always listen to your body and do what you can as long as you’re comfortable.

  • Drink plenty of water.

Unless your doctor has asked you to limit fluids, be sure to drink water when you exercise. Many older adults don’t feel thirsty even when their body needs fluids.

  • Wear comfortable clothes.

Be sure to wear clothes that let you move freely.


Senior Fitness – Get Set

For the workout, you’ll need two tennis balls, a sturdy chair with arms, a towel, and two equally weighted objects – like hand or wrist weights, soup cans, or water bottles. You may need to use 1- or 2-pound weights when starting out. As the exercises become easier, gradually add more weight.

You will start the sample workout by warming up. Then, move on to the strength and balance exercises. For each exercise, we show one set of 10-15 repetitions. Try doing 3 sets, and then cool down with the flexibility exercises.

What You Need

Here are some items that you may already have at home. If not, please tap an image to purchase on Amazon. These will help with your fitness routines.

Package of Yellow Tennis Balls Sturdy Captains Chair
Neoprene Dumbbells Superior Luxury Workout Towels

Senior Fitness Safety Tips

  • Breathe during strength exercises.

Do not hold your breath, try to breathe normally and breathe in during exertion and out when relaxing. For example, inhale as you lift weights, and exhale as you relax. When doing leg lifts, inhale as you lift your leg and exhale as you lower it.

  • Use smooth, steady movements when lifting weights.

To prevent injury, don’t jerk or thrust weights into position.

  • Keep your arm and leg joints slightly bent.

Avoid “locking” your arm and leg joints in a tightly straightened position.

  • Choose a sturdy chair with arms.

Make sure the chair is stable enough to support you when seated or when holding on during the exercise.

  • Make slow, steady movements.

Never “bounce” into a stretch.

  • Always bend forward from the hips, not the waist.

If you keep your back straight, you’re bending the right way.

  • Stop if you feel pain.

You might feel some soreness after you exercise, but exercise should not hurt or make you feel really tired. In fact, in many ways, being active will probably make you feel better.


Senior Fitness – Warm Up

It’s important to spend about 5 minutes at the beginning of your routine on warming up. Warming up gives your muscles a chance to get ready to work. Warm-up activities can help you prevent injury and reduce muscle soreness later.


  • Take a walk.
  • Ride a bike.
  • Dance around your living room or kitchen.
  • Walk up and down the stairs a few times.


Senior Fitness – Progressing

You should begin to feel stronger and more energetic once you start exercising regularly. The exercises will get easier. This tells you that you are getting used to a higher level of activity, and it’s time to build on those benefits by doing more.

Gradually increase the amount of weight you use to build strength, try some of the challenges on (see our Senior Fitness Exercises) to improve your balance, or reach farther in your stretching exercises.

Don’t forget to congratulate yourself on your efforts. You’ve made great progress and you’re ready to do more!

Senior Fitness – Your Cool Down is Important!

Cooling down at the end of your workout gives your muscles a chance to gradually return to rest. Again, this is important to prevent injury. To cool down, take about 5 minutes to do the 4 flexibility exercises.

Mix and match exercises for Full-Body Senior Fitness

Most of all, be creative and have fun!

You can do these easy-to-follow strength, balance, and flexibility exercise anytime, anywhere!

“I love living life to its fullest, but with my family responsibilities and my volunteer work, life can get pretty hectic. This wonderful Go4Life resource helps me stay fit and exercise safely. And what’s great is I can do these exercises wherever I happen to be.”

Pat Lynch, age 60


“As a doctor, I’m an ardent believer in exercise and eating well. Several years ago, I started doing daily strength and balance exercises as recommended in the exercise guide from the National Institute on Aging at NIH. These simple exercises help me maintain my active lifestyle.”

Samarendra Dutta, MD, Ph.D., age 87

Senior Fitness – Find Out More

For more information on how to exercise safely, check out Go4Life Everyday Exercises (Video) Join personal trainer Sandy Magrath and friends as they show you how to do strength, balance, and flexibility exercises. This video features exercises you can do at home, at work, in the gym, almost anywhere. Go4Life is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

With special thanks to NIH, this is dedicated to GP Cox. Be sure to visit Pacific Paratrooper for wonderful stories and information about the Pacific War.

Thank you for spending time with us today. We appreciate you stopping by. Wishing you the best of health!

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