Getting 30 minutes of exercise a day is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Regular physical activity can help keep your heart and bones strong while improving your strength and flexibility. Exercise has also been shown to improve mood by increasing the production of dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters that contribute to happiness and well-being. For seniors especially, getting regular exercise can help with the loss of muscle mass – a condition of aging that impairs balance and strength. Doing simple at-home exercises a few times a week can help restore decreased mobility and keep you feeling healthy, strong, and independent.

Exercise Routines

Workout routines vary on which parts of the body need to be exercised. Cardio workouts exercise the heart and lungs while being essential for weight loss and burning fat. Weightlifting workouts help rebuild strength as you practice controlled motion. And lastly, body weight tabata workout gets the heart rate up through short, high-intensity exercises. Regardless of what you want to exercise, this comprehensive list serves as a starting guide for seniors looking to work out from the comfort of their home.

Cardio Workout Routine

To get your heart pumping and blood flowing, try any of the following cardio exercises suited for seniors. Because it exercises the cardiovascular system, cardio workouts have great health benefits for the lungs and heart. Choosing low-impact exercises that can be incorporated into everyday life is the best way to start building your own custom routine.

Modified Push Ups

Sets: 2 to 3

Reps: 10

Duration: 4 minutes

Frequency: Every other day

Traditional push ups can be modified for those with decreased mobility or limited physical capacity. One way to modify push ups is to do them against a wall. Place your hands against a flat wall in front of you, far enough that your arms can fully extend without locking. Slowly lean your chest forward towards the wall, your arms bending as you move forward. For an additional challenge, step back slightly so that your body makes a diagonal line.

Knee to Chest Raises

Sets: 4 total, 2 on each side

Reps: 8

Duration: 7 minutes

Frequency: Three to four times a week

Start by standing with your feet a little further than shoulder-distance apart with your hips and both feet facing forward. Clasp your hands in front of your chest and keep them steady as you bend one knee upwards towards your chest. Do this with moderate control and remember to keep your back straight instead of bending forward. Return your foot to the floor and repeat until you complete all reps. This exercise helps work out the abdominals and improve balance.

High Knees

Sets: 1 or 2

Reps: 10

Duration: 3 minutes

Frequency: Two to three times a week

High knees are similar to knee raises, but require a little more effort, balance, and mobility. Practice the same motion as the knee to chest raises, but jump off of your landing foot as you switch knees. For this exercise, keep your arms bent at the elbow to mimic a running stance. This exercise is performed faster than regular knee raises and requires better balance, so be sure to practice them slowly before increasing the intensity level.

Leg Raises

Sets: 2 to 3

Reps: 5

Duration: 5 minutes

Frequency: Two to three times a week

Work your abdominals with simple leg raises. Lie on your back with your arms facing down at your sides or tucked under your butt for comfort. Keeping your legs straight, lift them upwards as high as you can with slow, controlled movements. If the pressure on your core is too intense, try bending your knees slightly.

Lunges

Sets: 4 total, 2 on each side

Reps: 10

Duration: 10 minutes

Frequency: Every other day

Lunges are great exercises to strengthen the legs and knees but are effective as cardiovascular exercise if you properly engage your core. Start with one leg out in front of you – far enough for a stretch but close enough that you can keep your balance. Keeping your chest up, back straight, and face forward, lower yourself straight down as your forward knee bends. Remember to keep the knee of your front leg behind the toes of your foot. Do this exercise slowly and with control, and keep your core tight as you move up and down.

Low-Impact Jumping Jacks

Sets: 2 to 3

Reps: 10

Duration: 4 minutes

Frequency: Three to four times a week

Jumping jacks may be difficult for seniors with sensitive joints. This low-impact alternative works out the same muscle groups while being suitable for those with less mobility. Stand with your legs together and arms at your side. Stretch out one leg to the side, and both arms into the air. Bring everything back to the starting pose, then repeat with the other leg. This works the body in a similar way to jumping jacks without being too rigorous.

Side Leg Lifts

Sets: 4 total, 2 on each side

Reps: 10

Duration: 8 minutes

Frequency: Three to four times a week

Standing up straight with your hands at your hips, slowly raise one leg out to the side and bring it back down in a controlled motion. If you find it difficult to hold your balance, lean the arm of the standing leg onto the head of a chair. You should repeat this exercise on each side for 10 reps before switching. This exercise can help to develop core muscles while improving balance.

Jog in Place

Sets: 1

Reps: 1

Duration: 1 to 3 minutes

Frequency: Every day

Simply jogging in place for one minute at a time is a simple way to get your heart rate up without exerting too much energy. Stand in place and lightly bounce up and down, taking one foot off the floor at a time while keeping a regular pace. You can jog at your own speed, but challenge yourself to keep going for at least a minute straight. If you can go a little longer, even better!

Weightlifting Exercise Routine

Lifting weights can seem intimidating, especially as you age. However, anyone can begin strength training by starting slow and incorporating light weights into low-pressure workouts. For beginners, it’s important to start off with lighter weights (5-10lbs) and increase only as you get more practice in. Introducing weights to your workout does not have to disrupt your routine, as you can add weights to many common exercises for an additional challenge.

One-Arm Dumbbell Row

Sets: 4

Reps: 5

Duration: 10 minutes

Frequency: Once or twice a week

Stand with one foot in front of the other as you place one hand on a sturdy surface and lean forward. Your supporting arm should be straight as you hold a dumbbell in the opposite hand and lift the arm up to your hip and down again. Complete all sets on one side, taking 60-second breaks in between, before switching to the other. You may find yourself shrugging your shoulders up to your ear, but remember to keep them as steady as possible to avoid unnecessary strain.

Squats

Sets: 1 to 3

Reps: 10

Duration: 6 minutes

Frequency: Every other day

Add a twist to regular squats by holding 5-10 lb dumbbells to practice strength training. Dumbbells can be incorporated into squats in several ways, including at the sides, at the shoulders, and in front of the chest. After each set, be sure to take at least 60 seconds to rest. As you squat down, remember to centralize the pressure on your butt as to alleviate stress on your shoulders and knees.

Dumbbell Curls

Sets: 2 to 3

Reps: 8 to 10

Duration: 5 minutes

Frequency: Every other day

Curls can be done standing up or sitting on a bench with a 45 to 60 degree incline. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms at your side and palms facing out. Keep your upper arms vertical as you curl the weights up by bending your elbow. Remember to keep your elbows close to your sides, to squeeze the biceps as your lift, and to slowly lower the weight until your arms are fully extended.

Shoulder Presses

Sets: 3

Reps: 5

Duration: 5 minutes

Frequency: Two to three times a week

Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart while tightening your core and keeping your back straight. With dumbbells in each hand, start with your arms raised to shoulder height, elbows bent so your hands are in the air beside your head. Make sure your palms are facing forward. Extend your arms up until they are straight above your head, then slowly bring them down to the starting position.

Step Ups

Sets: 4

Reps: 10

Duration: 10 minutes

Frequency: Three to four times a week

Target your legs and glutes by adding weights to the typical step-up exercise. Start with your non-dominant leg on a step or box and, with dumbbells in both hands, step onto it with the other leg. Without pausing at the top, lower down to the starting position, leaving your non-dominant foot on the box and then stepping back up on the same leg. Once you have completed 10 reps, switch to the other leg.

Dumbbell Lunges

Sets: 4 total, 2 on each side

Reps: 10

Duration: 10 minutes

Frequency: Every other day

Add a challenge to regular lunges by holding dumbbells down at your sides as you lower yourself forward. With weights, it’s important to alleviate the pressure you put on your knees, shoulders, and ankles, so try to focus the weight on the targeted legs and glutes.

Glute Bridges

Sets: 3

Reps: 8 to 10

Duration: 5 minutes

Frequency: Once or twice a week

Glute bridges are a strength training exercise that focus your glutes and thighs. They are regularly performed without weights, but you can rest a lightweight dumbbell on your abdomen for additional strength building. Lie flat on your back with your legs hip-width apart, knees bet, and feet flat on the floor. Gently and slowly lift your hips up into the air while squeezing your butt. This exercise can be slightly strenuous on the neck and back, so try doing it on a cushioned mat with a pillow under the neck.

Chest Presses

Sets: 2

Reps: 6 to 8

Duration: 7 minutes

Frequency: Once or twice a week

Chest presses can be accomplished lying down on the back or sitting straight up. Position your arms at shoulder height and hold them straight out in front of you with a dumbbell in each hand. Slowly press back so that your arms bend and your hands move towards the sides of your face. Do this slowly and in a controlled motion as to not accidentally injure yourself or strain your neck and shoulders.

Bodyweight Tabata Workout

Tabata workouts are perfect if you’re looking for high-intensity workouts in a short amount of time. By doing just a few minutes of full-effort interval training everyday, you can burn fat continuously throughout the day even after resting. There are many different Tabata exercises to try, and they are all guaranteed to increase your heart rate and make you feel the adrenaline of a long, intense workout.

Run in Place

Sets: 10

Reps: 1

Duration: 6 seconds

Frequency: Twice a week

The point of a Tabata exercise is to exert high energy during brief intervals. A simple (yet intense) starting point is running in place. Run in place at full speed for 6 seconds, take 90 seconds to rest, and then repeat 9 more times or for as long as you can. By practicing this exercise at least twice a week, your body will adjust to picking up its heart rate.

Heel Taps

Sets: 1

Reps: 10

Duration: 60 to 90 seconds

Frequency: One to two times a week

On a mat or cushioned surface, lie down with your back to the floor. For additional comfort, put a pillow down to support your neck. Keep your legs hip-width apart and bend them at the knee so that your feet are flat on the floor. With your arms extended at your sides, bend your torso to the side to touch your heel. Alternate sides with a regular pace for 60 to 90 seconds or as long as you can.

Boxing

Sets: 4 to 6

Reps: Freestyle

Duration: 30 seconds

Frequency: Two to three times a week

You don’t have to know how to box to practice boxing workouts from home. You can freestyle variations of punches, or follow instructional videos like the one above. The key is to exert full force in your motions for 30 seconds, and take 90 second breaks in between each set.

Brisk Walk

Sets: 1

Reps: 1

Duration: 8 to 10 minutes

Frequency: Three times a week

Walking around, even within your home, for a few minutes at a time can be an impactful workout in itself. It’s one of the best low-impact activities that can be modified for seniors interested in high-intensity training. Try walking at brisk pace for 8 to 10 minutes at a time. Without risking damage to your knees, shoulders, and other joints, you’ll be able to get your heart rate up.

Zumba

Sets: 1

Reps: Freestyle

Duration: 30 minutes

Frequency: Once or twice a week

Zumba is a fun, low-exercise workout that won’t feel like exercise at all. There are hundreds of tutorials online that are catered to seniors and easy to follow. Zumba can be high-intensity or low-intensity, so it won’t be hard to find a workout that’s easy on the joints. Because Zumba feels like a dance class, it’s known to improve balance and coordination.

Bent Dumbbell Rows

Sets: 4

Reps: 7 to 10

Duration: 15 seconds

Frequency: Once or twice a week

The dumbbell row is an upper body exercise that helps strengthen the upper back. Similar to the one-arm dumbbell row, lean your body forward without holding on to a supporting surface. Your back should be flat as you bend over into a 45 degree angle with two lightweight dumbbells in each hand. Bend both arms up and down, lifting the dumbbells to shoulder-height each time, and slowly Do this for 15 seconds, take a 60 second break, then repeat.

Seated Crunches

Sets: 2

Reps: 10

Duration: 4 minutes

Frequency: Three to four times a week

For those with limited mobility, seated crunches are a great modification of traditional crunches that still engage the core and exercise the abdominal muscles. Sit straight up in a chair and fold your arms over each other, holding them up in front of your chest. Remembering to breathe in and out, crunch your abs inward and bring your elbows close to your knees. Bring them back up to the starting position, and that counts as 1 rep.

Single Leg Heel Lifts

Sets: 2 to 4

Reps: 6 to 8

Duration: 5 minutes

Frequency: Three to four times a week.

Stand behind a chair or another sturdy object to help with balance. Lift one leg up behind you and lift the heel of the other leg off of the floor, rising up on your toes. Slowly come back down and repeat 5 times before switching to the opposite leg. Try to alternate legs for at least 2 sets before taking time to rest.