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What Exercises Should Seniors Avoid

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A resident rides an exercise bike.

Getting your body moving, whether on your own or with support, can benefit your health and wellness. Exercise is important for your personal care, but are there any exercises you should consider avoiding? 

Continue reading to learn more about exercise for seniors, including why it’s essential and what exercises to avoid for your health and safety. 

The Benefits of Exercise for Seniors

Physical activity is vital for every person’s health, becoming especially important as you age. Regular exercise can help prevent health problems and strengthen the muscles, keeping your body working at its best. Getting up and moving is especially important as people tend to live more sedentary lifestyles. 

While no one has to be moving 24/7, the average senior spends over 9 hours a day sitting. This number equals approximately 65–85% of an older adult’s hours awake. Too much time off your feet can lead to several health concerns, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and unhealthy cholesterol levels. 

While you deserve plenty of time to relax, regular exercise can have several health benefits. For example, a daily walk can help reduce the risk of depression and anxiety

Other benefits of regular exercise include: 

  • Managing your weight 
  • Strengthening your bones & muscles 
  • Reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reducing your risk of diabetes
  • Improving your quality of life
  • Improving your ability to complete daily tasks
  • Increasing your life expectancy 

How Much Exercise Do Seniors Need? 

Older adults looking to exercise should aim for a couple of hours per week. 150 to 300 minutes (2 to 3 hours) is ideal for seniors

Remember, this number range is only a recommendation—do what you can to the best of your ability—if you have a medical condition or can’t exercise for long periods, complete as much exercise a week as possible. Listen to your body because any movement is beneficial for your health! 

When exercising, you should incorporate a mix of muscle-strengthening and aerobic activities. You can hit your 150 to 300 minutes weekly in different ways, whether with moderate or vigorous exercise. Try jogging for 75 minutes a week, or you can take 30-minute walks 5 days a week to reach your goals. 

Try your best to have at least 2 days of muscle-strengthening exercise a week, working out the major muscle groups: your legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms.

What Kind of Exercises Should Seniors Do? 

Older adults can stay active in many ways, from sports to individual workouts. Many senior living communities offer physical therapy services or exercise facilities to help residents meet their exercise needs.

You exercise to move your body, so focus on finding activities you’re interested in or enjoy doing. Having different exercises in your routine can benefit multiple aspects of your health and wellness.  

Exercise typically falls into 4 different categories

  • Endurance (walking, swimming, jogging)
  • Strength (weight lifting, bodyweight exercises)
  • Balance (yoga, balance exercises)
  • Flexibility (stretching, yoga)
A resident does a workout on a yoga mat with light weights.

What Exercises Should Seniors Avoid? 

While exercise benefits seniors, it’s important to remember your limitations. It’s common for people to slow down with time, have less energy, or lose some previous strength. While this doesn’t mean you can’t work out, focus on your safety. 

Older adults are at a greater risk of injury, so consider avoiding these more strenuous exercises

Leg Extensions

The leg extension involves lifting a chosen weight using the thigh muscles to improve your strength. While this exercise helps build muscle, it can be risky for your knees or ankles. 

Part of this machine rests on your ankles, which may cause complications if you have a history of ankle problems. This exercise can also stress your kneecaps, leading to wear and tear. 

Heavy Weight Lifting

Lifting weights can help build strength in all your muscle groups, but lifting too heavy is a common problem, even for people in their 20s and 30s. Don’t push yourself too hard lifting weight—an unnecessary injury will only keep you from exercising longer. 

Focus on handling weights you can safely lift for 10 to 12 reps. 

Plyometric Exercises

Plyometric exercises are more commonly known as jump training. They involve doing things like box jumping and depth jumps. These exercises can be dangerous if you aren’t careful with your form or lack the necessary strength. 

There are other similar, less strenuous exercises you can try. If you’re interested in jump training, do them with less intensity and have someone available to ensure you’re doing them correctly. 

Overhead Press

The overhead press is a common shoulder exercise where you lift the weight over your head. This movement can place a lot of stress on your shoulders and rotator cuffs, so consider other shoulder exercises. 


Running, jogging, and walking can help you stay in shape, but sprinting may be too intense for your needs. The faster you run, the higher your risk of injury. While you may be confident sprinting if you’re a long-term runner, don’t push yourself too hard and move at a more sustainable pace. 

You Don’t Need to Exercise Alone

While you should avoid some exercises as you get older, there are plenty you can enjoy almost daily. Many senior living communities offer exercise programs to keep their residents moving if you’re looking for support with your physical activity. They can help you get the daily exercise you need to stay healthy. Contact us if you’re interested in exercise support, and we can answer any questions.

Written by Butler Street Senior Living

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