Even if you can’t go to the gym, you can still improve your strength and mobility by doing bodyweight exercises. A bodyweight workout doesn’t use free weights, machines or any other type of equipment. You use your own bodyweight as resistance – which means you can do strength training exercises just about anywhere.
Benefits of Bodyweight Exercises for Seniors
According to Mayo Clinic, the resistance training effect from using your body weight can actually be as effective as using free weights or machines. And there are significant benefits to this type of exercise for seniors. Muscle loss is linked to falls, fractures, and even insulin resistance in older adults. Studies show strong evidence that resistance exercises can counter age-related muscle mass loss, muscle weakness, loss of mobility, chronic disease disability, and even premature mortality.
If you’re interested in some of the best bodyweight exercises for seniors, here are a few no-gym workouts you can start doing at home. An important thing to keep in mind: If you have hypertension, bad knees or a replaced joint, talk to your doctor before starting any new exercises.
Lie on your back, keeping your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart. Press your arms to the floor for support. Push through your feet (almost like you’re trying to push your toes out the end of your shoes) and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips up into the air until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Pause, then slowly lower back down to your starting position. That’s one rep. Eight to 12 reps make up one set. Do two to three sets, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder level, bracing your core. This is your starting position. Push your hips back and slowly bend your knees to lower your body into a squat. Pause, then push through your heels to slowly return to the start position. That’s one rep. Do two to three sets of eight to 12 reps, resting 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
If you need to modify the squat exercise, try these chair squats. Use a sturdy chair that doesn’t fold. Stand in front of the chair, feet hip-width apart. Keep your chest upright as you push your hips back and bend your knees to lower your body toward the chair. You can either just touch your backside to the chair or sit all the way down on it. At this point, your upper body should be leaning forward only slightly. Pause, then push up through your feet and squeeze your glutes to return to your starting position. Do two to three sets of eight to 12 reps, resting 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
Stand about two feet away from the wall. Put your hands against it at shoulder height and shoulder-width apart. Keep your body in a straight line as you bend your elbows diagonally to your sides to lower your chest to the wall. Let your heels come off the floor. Pause, then slowly press through your hands to straighten your elbows and return to start. Do two to three sets of eight to 12 reps, resting 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
Side Lying Circles
Lie on one side on the floor with your body in a straight line, your bottom arm extended straight past your head. Rest your head on your bottom arm and squeeze your abdominals to pull in your belly. Keeping your hips directly over each other, lift your top leg to about hip height and move your leg in small clockwise circles in the air. Pause, then perform the circles in counterclockwise motion. Lower your leg to return to start, then repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep. Do two to three sets of six to eight reps, resting 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
Get on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Keep your back flat and abdominals tight as you lift one hand to reach straight in front of your shoulder while lifting your opposite foot straight behind your hip. Your arm, leg and body should be in a straight line. Hold this position for three breaths (or as long as you can maintain balance), then lower your hand and foot toward the floor to return to start. Repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep. Do two to three sets of six to eight reps, resting 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
At Eagle Senior Living, our goal is to provide a comfortable place for seniors to live authentic and enriched lives, surrounded by opportunities to grow. This includes wellness programs that encourage you to explore the best ways to get fit, from joining neighbors in a walking club to fitness classes and golf. Find a senior living community near you.