Top Physical Activities for Seniors

As we grow older, we may start to slow down and frequently opt for more stationary activities. However, retaining an active lifestyle provides immense health benefits for adults 65 and older. Some benefits of staying active include more energy, improved brain function, and increased balance. In fact, regular exercise can reduce the likelihood of falling by 23%.  It is recommended that older adults incorporate aerobic, muscle-strengthening, balance, and flexibility activities into their routines. Remember to start slowly! Aim for light or moderate intensity for short periods of time. Make sure to spread out the physical activity sessions throughout the week. Increase physical activity gradually over a period of weeks to months.

Aerobic Activities

Aerobic activity is considered any activity that increases your heart rate. Older adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity each week, or an equivalent combination the two. Perform aerobic activity for at least three days a week to help avoid excessive fatigue and reduce the risk of injury. It counts as long as the aerobic activity is performed at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time. The intensity of the activity depends upon the older adult's level of fitness.

Examples of aerobic activities:

  • Walking
  • Dancing
  • Swimming
  • Water aerobics
  • Jogging
  • Aerobic exercise classes
  • Bicycle riding (stationary or on a path)
  • Tennis


Older adults should participate in muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week. Try to include all major muscle groups: the legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms. One set of 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise is effective, but doing two or three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions may increase the overall benefits.

Examples of muscle-strengthening activities:

  • Exercises using exercise bands, weight machines, hand-held weights
  • Calisthenic exercises (bodyweight provides resistance to movement)
  • Digging, lifting, and carrying as part of gardening
  • Carrying groceries
  • Some yoga exercises


Increased risk of falling occurs when older adults have trouble walking or have had falls in the recent past. The guidelines recommend older adults do balance training three or more days a week and do standardized exercises from a program demonstrated to reduce falls.

Examples of balance exercises:

  • Backward walking
  • Sideways walking
  • Heel walking
  • Toe walking
  • Standing from a sitting position


Flexibility is a vital part of physical fitness. It plays an integral role in some types of physical activities such as dancing. Adults should perform stretching exercises to help increase flexibility. Activities that require greater flexibility are easier for adults who perform stretching exercises.

Twin Lakes Community in Burlington, North Carolina, is dedicated to providing a comprehensive, committed approach to wellness and commits significant investments to deliver the tools necessary for our residents to achieve successful aging. If a wellness program is a must-have offering when it comes to choosing an independent living community, you'll want to check out our opportunities in person. Contact us today to schedule a tour! 


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