Body-Weight Exercises for Seniors

Body weight exercises for seniors do not require free weights or resistance training equipment. You can maintain your fitness with simply the weight of your natural body. Certainly in the old-fashioned days, we had no gym equipment and relied on our daily chores to keep strong and healthy.

The great part of exercising without equipment is that you can exercise anywhere, at any time, even with limited physical space. Think of when you travel, even over a long weekend. Simply try these exercises to keep in shape until you get home with your normal gear.

  1. Wall Push Ups.
  2. Mini Squats.
  3. Partial Chair Get-Up.
  4. Pull Through.
  5. Straight Leg Raise.
Watch my instructional video

We need to maintain our physical fitness consistently through our daily lives. This consistency is really the key to staying active and making your workouts effective and fun. Using body weight exercises when in a location or situation that is not your home, can be just what you need. These exercises can be challenging and use all your major muscle groups just like the gym exercises with weights. You can also get a cardiovascular workout in just as easily without a treadmill or stepping machine.

Exercise 1

Wall Push Ups. Begin by finding a free wall in your home. Stand about arms length away from the wall. Bring your feet hip width apart, tuck in your buttock and keep your head in line with your spine. Point your fingers to the ceiling. Slowly bring your head toward the wall by bending your elbow. When your head reaches the wall your body should still be straight and in alignment. Pause and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Exercise 2

Mini Squats. Begin by standing in back of your chair or holding on to a counter or sink. Lift your chest and chin. Start by bending your knees and level change downward, not too far. This is not a squat, it is a partial squat. Stop about half way down into your partial squat, pause, then return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Exercise 3

Partial Chair Get-Up. Begin in your chair, preferably without arm rests. Extend your right leg out and place your heel on the ground with a straight leg. Holding on to the chair sides with both hands begin to release your left hand and bring it over your right toe, while at the same time lifting your bottom off the chair with your right hand. Repeat 10 times on each side.

Exercise 4

Pull Through. Begin by facing your chair seat with feet at hip width distance. Lean forward and hold on to each side of the chair or arm rests. Take a step backward with both feet. To begin the exercise, bring your tail bone toward your heels as far as comfortable and before you feel you might not be able to stand back up. Pause at this level and return to the starting position while bringing your hips as low as comfortable. Repeat 10 times.

Exercise 5

Straight Leg Raise. Sitting in your chair, extend one leg out and set it on the heel. Slowly contract your quads, point toes to ceiling, and lift your leg as high as comfortable. Pause and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times on each leg.

To get started with body weight exercises for seniors, certainly check with your doctor and let them know you are going to start an exercise program and increase your activity level. If you have any old injuries in your hips, shoulders, back or arms, be sure to modify any of the exercises you see here. You can modify exercises by reducing the number of repetitions, reducing the range of motion of the exercise, or making sure you are using less of your body weight when performing the exercise.

Make sure to warm up before your body weight exercise session begins. Warming up with increase the blood flow in your muscles, increase your heart rate, and improve the mobility of your joints. Make sure to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth during your warm up period. A simple 5 minute warm up will be fine.

Most body weight routines will work all your major muscle groups including your legs, trunk, shoulders, back, and arms. This will develop muscular strength and endurance in all these muscles.

Core stability is also an important component of body weight exercises to develop the ability to stabilize the body and improve posture. Our core is basically the area above our pelvis including the transverse abdominis, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, multifidus, and erector spinae. This will better allow you to coordinate movements of your arms legs, and spine.

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.