Physical Activity for Seniors to Stay Healthy

September is Go4Life Month

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September is Go4Life Month to raise awareness of the benefits of physical exercise for older adults to prevent diseases, falls and to prolong life.

When seniors are told by their doctors they have to get more physical exercise many feel overwhelmed and do not know how or where to begin. However, you do not need to buy special clothes or go to a gym or even enroll in group exercise classes. The National Institute on Aging has a Go4Life website that offers all kinds of free exercise lessons and videos. You can exercise while doing things you enjoy around your house, garden or neighborhood. The main thing is to get up from sitting too much and the best physical exercise is brisk walking. Forget that you own a car. If you have a TV or computer get up every 5-10 minutes to stretch and walk around your room. You can even stretch your legs while sitting.

Benefits of Physical Activity and Exercise for Seniors

  • Exercising can help you maintain and improve your strength so that you can remain independent.
  • You will have more energy to participate in activities you enjoy and to do things.
  • You can improve your balance which will help you avoid falls.
  • You can prevent, delay or slow down the progression of some medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
  • Physical activities, especially to music, can improve your emotional outlook and fight feelings of depression.

Four Kinds of Physical Exercises

Check out the videos for each kind of exercise at the Go4Life web-site.

Endurance Exercises

Begin slowly exercising for 10 minutes and take a break and then exercise again for another 10 minutes and take another break until you have exercised for a total of 30 minutes. If you get breathless and have difficulty talking you are over-doing this exercise.

Strength Exercises

Strength exercises build muscles so that you can keep using your muscles.

Balance Exercises

Balance exercises help you improve your balance to prevent falls. Try to stand on only one foot without holding on to something to keep from falling. However, make sure there is something in reach to grab on to so you will not fall in case you lose your balance.

Flexibility Exercises

Stretching exercises help you to be more flexible. Do stretching exercises after your muscles have warmed up. You can gently stretch a little bit at a time stretching a little bit further each time. Doing this slowly a little bit at a time will keep you from getting pain, but if you do experience sharp pain then stop.

Exercising with Chronic Illnesses

Check with your doctor if:

  • you are over 50 and have not been physically active,
  • you get dizzy spells or feel short of breath
  • you have suffered from blood clots
  • you have chest pain, a feeling of pressure or tightness in the chest, a racing heart, fluttering or feeling that your heart is skipping a beat
  • you have joint swelling
  • you have sores on your feet or ankles that do not heal
  • you have a fever or an infection with muscle aches
  • you have recently lost a lot of weight without dieting
  • you have recently experienced some new kind of symptom that you did not previously discuss with your doctor
  • you have a detached retina, bleeding in your eye, had eye surgery or laser treatment on your eyes
  • you have a hernia
  • you had recent back or hip surgery

Exercise and Osteoarthritis

See our blog from February 5, 2018, about osteoarthritis and physical exercise.

Safety Tips

  • Warm up your muscles before you begin.
  • Start slowly and work your way up gradually to spend more time with the exercises, 10 minutes at a time and break.
  • Do not hold your breath while doing any exercises as this can affect changes in your blood pressure.
  • Wear safety equipment like a crash helmet for bicycle riding and proper orthopedic shoes for walking or jogging.
  • It is very important not to get dehydrated while doing exercises and you should drink water even if you are not thirsty.
  • Bend down by bending your hips and knees. It is not good for the back to bend down from the waist.


Physical exercise is so beneficial for everyone that there is no reason not to begin today. Check with your doctor if you have any medical concerns.

The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York

When you are looking for a short or long-term rehabilitation and skilled nursing facility choose one that has outdoor gardens and spaces where you can walk around like the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, NY. Also, Van Duyn has wonderful physical exercise and therapy programs, as well as fantastic recreational programs and activities. See our blog post from July 11, 2018.

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