Arm Exercises for Seniors

Arm exercises for seniors can help improve your activities of daily living, tone and strengthen your shoulder an arms, and can be done with simple weights. That is a lot of benefit for just a few exercises. Let’s take a look at a few of the best.

Many seniors report that they don’t have time to exercise, go to the gym, and don’t have the right equipment to start an exercise program that includes arm exercises. The following are some exercises you can do with a chair and some water bottles.

  1. Bicep Curls.
  2. Overhead Press.
  3. Side Raise.
  4. Punches.
  5. Kick Backs.
Watch my instructional video

Certainly you can use a set of dumbbells if you want to make the workout more challenging. It is also ok to start with no weights, just the natural resistance of your real arms can be a good workout if you have not exercised in a while or are an inactive seniors. I always say it is important to start slowly with any exercise program or anytime you increase your activity level. It takes a good 4 weeks for your body to get used to the new stress on your muscles and bones.

Exercise 1

Bicep Curls. Sit or stand with your arms at sides.  Hold weights for a more challenging workout. With your palms facing up and a braced core, keeping your upper arms vertical, curl the weights up. Pause for a second and slowly allow the weights to return to the starting position with arms fully extended. Remember to keep your elbows tucked at your sides, to squeeze the biceps at the top of the lift, and to lower the weight until your arms are fully extended. Repeat 10 times.

Exercise 2

Overhead press. Sit or stand with your hands at shoulder height, palms forward. Use small dumbbells for a more challenging workout. Press the weights overhead, as high as comfortable. Stop if you have pain. Keep the weights forward of your shoulders. Extend your elbows as far as comfortable, then return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times. Remember to breathe out as the weights go up and in as the weights come down. Keep the chest lifted, and core tight.

Exercise 3

Side Raise. Stand or sit with arms at sides. Use small hand weights for a more challenging workout. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Begin by lifting your elbows out to the side to shoulder level, or as high as comfortable without pain. Keep your shoulder down, chest lifted. Pause and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Exercise 4

Forward Punches. Begin seated or standing with hands at chin height. Use water bottles or small hand weights to make the workout more challenging. Bring one arm forward and return, then bring the other arm forward and return. Imaging a punching bag out just at arms length. Repeat for 1 minute.

Exercise 5

Kick Backs. Sit or stand with your arms at sides. Extend your arms back behind as far as comfortable. Bend and straighten your elbow while maintaining your arm behind. Keep your elbows tucked at your sides. Repeat 10 times.

Make sure you keep your breathing going while performing these exercises. This is true especially when using resistance like weights or elastic bands. We want to maintain our breathing throughout the movement, with a natural rhythm. Generally we say breathe out during the effort, and breathe in during your recovery phase. For example, when lifting the weights overhead, breathe out your mouth during the effort and breathe in through your nose during the downward phase.

Many seniors want to tone and tighten the under part of our upper arms. The overhead press and triceps kickback are great exercises to accomplish this goal. Sometimes we call them flabby arms, or chicken wings, bingo wings, or flying squirrels. What ever the name, we need a way to improve the look of our arms. Try these exercises several times a week to see the results, which should be stronger arms, tighter under arms, and better functional abilities.

These exercises can be performed 3 times a week. Try 3 sets of 10 repetitions to get the most benefit from these arm exercises for seniors. Make sure to rest at least 48 hours between sessions to give your body time to heal and recuperate.

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Let me know if you have any questions or would like to see other exercises or senior fitness content. You can leave your comments and suggestions on my About Page. Need personal help? Check out my new Academy. Exercise is really your magic pill to feel better and live longer. Remember to stay active, stay strong, and stay connected!

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Doug Schrift

Doug Schrift is a Physical Therapist, Certified Geriatric Specialist, and senior fitness coach. Doug helps seniors become strong and stable even if they have never exercised before.