Senior Citizens Approach to Wellness

Physical activity is good for your health at every age and especially for senior citizens. If you have never been active, starting regular physical activity now may improve your endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. Being active may help you live on your own for a longer time and keep you healthy.

Being active can be hard if your mobility is limited or if you have serious health problems. Nonetheless, you can find activities to meet your needs. Slowly raising your arms or legs, for example, may help you when done on a regular, repeated basis.

Healthy senior citizens should perform four types of activities regularly within a Wellness Program: Aerobic (or endurance) exercise and activities to strengthen muscles, improve balance, and increase flexibility. See the table below to learn more. For any new physical activity, if you have not been active, start slowly and work up to your goal. To track your progress and stay motivated, keep a daily diary of what you do and how long you do it.

Many activities give you more than just one benefit! Water aerobics with weights gives you strengthening and aerobic benefits. Yoga combines balance, flexibility, and strengthening. Choose what you like to do—some physical activity is better than none.

Wellness Physical Activities

Aerobic Activity


  • Aerobic (or endurance) exercise uses your large muscle groups (chest, legs, and back) to increase your heart rate and breathing.
  • You can speak several words in a row but not have a long chat while exercising.

Senior Citizen Benefits

  • Stay active as you age.

Senior Citizen Aerobic Physical Activities

  • Go for a brisk walk.
  • Do heavy housework or gardening.
  • Look into a water aerobics or tennis class for seniors.


  • Aim to spread at least 150 minutes of moderately intense activity throughout the week.
  • Reach your 150-minute goal by exercising at least 10 minutes at a time.

Muscles Strengthen Activity


This activity strengthens your muscles by making you push or pull against something, such as gravity, hand-held weights, exercise bands, or even soup cans.

Senior Citizen Benefits

  • Increase your strength and independence.
  • Reduce your need for a cane.
  • Improve your balance at the same time.

Senior Citizen Aerobic Physical Activities

  • Raise and lower arms and legs for a number of counts. You can even do this while seated.
  • Climb stairs in your house or at a mall if you can do so safely. Use your cane if needed.
  • Dig in the garden, rake, and push a lawn mower.


Aim for at least 2 days a week.

Balance Strengthen Activity


  • Balance activity requires you to keep control of your body as you move.
  • It may help strengthen muscles in your abdomen (stomach area), lower back, hips, and legs.

Senior Citizen Benefits

  • Stay steady on your feet.
  • Reduce the risk of a fall or injury.
  • Improve your strength at the same time.

Senior Citizen Aerobic Physical Activities

  • Try walking heel to toe in a straight line.
  • Practice standing on one foot.
  • Stand up from a chair and sit down again without using your hands.


Aim for 3 or more days a week.

Ask your health care provider about being active

Healthy older adults generally do not need to check with a health care provider before becoming physically active. However, health care providers may be able to recommend types of exercise that are best for you and ways to progress at a safe and steady pace.

If you have a health issue or problem, you should talk with your health care provider to find out if there are any limits on what you can do. Your provider can help you plan for the types and amounts of exercise that are healthy for you.

How can I start or maintain an exercise program that works for me?

You can start slowly and increase your goals as you build your strength over time. For example, you can do many arm and leg exercises without weights to get started. As you progress, you can add hand-held weights, like soup cans, to improve your strength.

The Go4Life campaign, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), offers easy-to-use materials on health and aging. Try their tips on how to create an exercise program that works for you. Check the For More Information section for links to free NIA materials that you can download or order to start or maintain a healthy exercise program that is just right for you.


Kevin O

About Kevin O'Sullivan

President & CEO - LL Corpus Cogere, Inc.