Staying active is essential at every age, but as you grow older, maintaining fitness becomes even more crucial for your overall health and well-being. Regular exercise can improve mobility, flexibility, and balance for seniors, reducing the risk of falls and injuries. According to the National Institute on Aging, four kinds of exercise can enhance your health and help you maintain your independence as you age: flexibility, endurance, balance, and strength. But with the abundance of information (and misinformation) swirling online, finding the right exercises that are safe, effective, and enjoyable can be a challenge—especially if you prefer working out at home. Fortunately, we spoke with Mike Masi, CPT, a certified personal trainer at Garage Gym Reviews, who shares 10 of the best exercises for seniors to do at home.

“Exercise for seniors is crucial for maintaining flexibility, strength, and balance, which can help prevent falls and maintain independence,” Masi explains. In fact, research indicates that regular physical activity can help prevent sarcopenia in older adults by preserving muscle mass and strength, which tend to decline with age. Engaging in exercises that target various muscle groups (e.g., resistance training) can be especially beneficial in maintaining muscle mass and function while lowering your sarcopenia risk.

Keep reading for the 10 best exercises for seniors to do at home, according to Masi. And when you’re finished, check out the 7 Best Workouts To Regain Flexibility.

Chair Squats

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First up are chair squats, a variation of the classic bodyweight squat and a surefire way to build and maintain lower-body strength.

To perform this movement, Masi says, “Stand in front of a chair with your feet shoulder-width apart, and lower into a squat, lightly touching the chair before standing back up. Remember that the lower the chair, the harder this exercise will be. Use seat height to scale the difficulty as needed.” Complete four sets of eight to 10 reps with one minute of rest between sets.

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Elevated Pushups

Elevated pushups are a modified version of traditional pushups that are easier on the wrists and shoulders.

“Place your hands on an elevated surface like a countertop or a banister slightly wider than your shoulders, but adjust the width for comfort,” instructs Masi. “Ensure your feet are behind you and your body is straight as if in a plank position. Lower your chest to touch the countertop. The lower the surface, the more challenging this exercise will be. Use surface height to scale the difficulty as needed.” Perform four sets of eight to 12 reps, resting for one minute.

Modified Burpees

While you may have a love-hate relationship with traditional burpees, modified burpees are a low-impact version that’s more sustainable for seniors.

Masi tells us, “Start by straddling a yoga mat. Reach both hands down to the ground, then step one leg back so your knee is on the ground. Do the same with the other leg. Then, lower your chest and hips to the ground. Reverse this order to get back up. Use a sturdy surface to place your hands on for upper body assistance if needed.” Aim for three sets of two to five reps with one minute rest between rounds.

RELATED: 8 Tips for Boosting Muscle Growth After 50, According to a Trainer

Heel Raises

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This simple lower-body exercise will help strengthen your calf muscles, which are essential for stability and balance.

“Stand with your heels hanging off a step. Ensure you’re holding onto something sturdy for support, as this is not a balance exercise. Lower your heels slowly until you feel a stretch behind your lower leg, then raise your heels toward the ceiling. This can be done from a flat surface as a regression if needed,” explains Masi. Do four sets of 10 to 15 reps and rest for one minute between sets.

Arm Circles

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Arm circles are a fantastic exercise for boosting shoulder mobility and strengthening the muscles around your shoulder joint.

“Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and extend your arms to the sides, then make small circles with arms, each set changing direction,” says Masi. Perform this motion nonstop for 30 to 60 seconds, and repeat for three to five rounds. Rest for one minute between rounds.

RELATED: 10 Best Total-Body Exercises To Look 10 Years Younger After 40

Walking

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Walking is an excellent low-impact exercise and a pillar of healthy aging. According to a 2023 review, walking helps improve cardiovascular health, strengthens muscles, enhances mood, and lowers chronic disease risk.

“Walk briskly on a treadmill or around the neighborhood,” advises Masi. “If needed, use an assistive device to help with balance. Start with level surfaces, but introduce small inclines and hills as you become more confident. Find a pace that allows you to walk without having to stop.” Aim for a total of 150 minutes of walking throughout the week, spread across five 30-minute sessions.

Standing Hip Abduction

This exercise targets the muscles of the outer thigh and hip to enhance hip stability and strength.

“Stand behind a chair for support, keep your body straight, lift one leg to the side, then lower the leg back down gently,” says Masi. “Ensure your toes on both feet point straight ahead throughout the exercise. Try to keep from compensating at the trunk when lifting your leg.” Complete 10 to 20 reps per leg for three sets. Rest 30 seconds between sets.

RELATED: 7 Balance Exercises a 60-Year-Old Yoga Instructor Does For Peak Mobility

Seated March

Seated marches are a stellar activity to improve hip and knee flexibility and strengthen muscles in your lower body.

Masi instructs, “Sit in a chair with your back straight, and march your legs up and down in place, lifting your knees as high as comfortable.” Perform this movement for 20 to 30 seconds uninterrupted. Repeat four times with one minute of rest between.

Glute Bridges

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Next up are glute bridges, a highly effective exercise for strengthening your glutes and lower back muscles.

“Lie on your back with your knees bent so your feet are flat and about shoulder-width apart,” says Masi. “Squeeze your glutes (butt muscles), and lift your hips off the ground. If lying on the ground is too difficult, you can do this on your bed to start.” Perform four sets of 10 to 20 with one minute of rest between sets.

Single-Leg Balance

Single-leg balance exercises help improve balance and stability, which are crucial for preventing falls and maintaining mobility as you age.

“Stand behind a chair, and lift one foot off the ground while raising your knee toward the ceiling,” says Masi. “Ensure your leg on the ground remains straight. Hold this position, then switch feet. You can use your fingertips on the chair in front of you for help with balance to start if needed.” Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds per leg, and repeat five times.

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