Best Bodyweight Exercises for Seniors: Stay Fit and Healthy

Taking care of our physical health and fitness becomes increasingly important as we age.

One of the best ways to do this is through regular exercise.

But I know for some people it’s a struggle to figure out where to begin or what exercises are best.

If that’s you, let me introduce you to body weight exercises. 

They are the perfect starting point for everyone, regardless of your fitness level, physical limitations, or busy schedule. 

And the best part?

No special equipment required! 

Just use your own bodyweight.

With body weight exercises, you have the freedom to work out anytime, anywhere – whether it’s your living room, a hotel room, or enjoying the outdoors. 

No need for a costly gym membership.

And the good news – I’ve put together a fantastic list of bodyweight exercises specifically designed for seniors of all fitness levels. 

You can start with just a few exercises or add them into your current exercise program – the choice is yours.

So, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced athlete, there’s something here for everyone. 

Let’s get moving and reap the countless benefits of exercise. 

Upper Bodyweight Exercises

It’s so important to keep your upper body strong as you age.

Here are a few great upper body exercises:

Boxing

Boxing punches are great to work your upper body

Not to mention it can help you take out some aggression!

There are several boxing punches you can do.

There is the jab, cross, hook and uppercut and they are all great moves to make your upper body stronger.

To perform the Jab and Cross

  • Stand with your feet shoulder to hip width apart.
  • Put one hand by your face.
  • For the Jab – punch straight out in front of you at shoulder level.
  • For the cross – punch at shoulder level across your body
  • Do 5 – 8 on each side and the switch arms and repeat.
  • You can also mix them up a bit if you prefer.
  • Try to do 2-3 sets.
boxing punch
boxing cross punch

To perform the hook or upper cut:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder to hip width apart.
  2. Put one hand by your face.
  3. For the hook – bend your elbows close to your side and then swing one arm at a time across at your chest abdomen level.  Alternating arms
  4. For the upper cut – bend your elbows close to your body and punch up in front of you
  5. Do 8-10 per arm.  
  6. Try to do 2-3 sets.

Be sure to use force when punching, don’t just lightly throw the punch – do it like someone has made you mad!

boxing upper cut
boxing cross

Push Ups

There are so many different forms of push-ups, and they are all beneficial!

Wall Push-Ups

Wall push-ups are an easier version of the traditional push-up and can be done anywhere with a sturdy wall.

To perform this exercise:

  1. Stand facing a wall with your feet shoulder to hip-width apart.
  2. Place your hands on the wall at shoulder height.
  3. Slowly lower your body towards the wall, then push back up to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions.
wall push up
wall pushups

Incline Push-ups

These can help you transition from standing push-ups to floor push-ups.

To do Incline push-ups:

Grap a sturdy object like a weight bench, your couch, a chair (make sure it is against a wall so it doesn’t move on you!

  • Place your hands on the bench, couch or chair.
  • Bring your legs out straight behind you and keep your body in a straight line.  
  • Slowly lower your body towards the bench or chair, then push back up to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 10-15 repetitions.
workout bench push up
weightbench pushups

Floor Push-ups

When you’re ready it’s time to hit the floor!

You can do these on your knees or toes.

  • Lay down on your stomach
  • Place your hands away from your body at rib or shoulder level.
  • Push your whole body up.
  • slowly slower your body back down
  • Repeat for 10-15 reps

You can also include a side plank between push-ups for more of a challenge.

push up
push up

Chair Dips

Chair dips are a great way to strengthen the triceps and improve upper body strength.

To perform this exercise:

  1. Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair with your hands on the edge of the seat.
  2. Slowly lower your body towards the floor, then push back up to the starting position.
  3. The further you place your feet away from the chair the harder the exercise will be.
  4. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions. 
chair triceps 3
tricep dips

Walk Out Shoulder Taps

This is a great shoulder and arm exercise.

​To do this one:

  • Start by standing up.
  • Bend over and touch your hands to the ground in front of you.
  • Walk out until your body is in high plank position.
  • Take your right arm and touch your right shoulder.
  • Then take your left arm and touch your left shoulder.
  • Use your hands to walk back to your feet.
  • Then repeat 10-12 times.
shoulder taps

Lower Body Exercises

As an older adult, maintaining strength and mobility in your lower body is very important. 

Here are some strength training exercises for the lower body:

Seated Knee Lift

Seated knee lifts are a great exercise to strengthen your quadriceps, which is important for walking and standing up from a chair.

To perform this exercise:

  1. Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Slowly lift your right foot off the ground and straighten your leg.
  3. Hold for a few seconds, and then lower your foot.
  4. Repeat with your left leg.
  5. Aim for 10-15 repetitions on each leg.

Lunges

To strengthen your quads even more give lunges a try!

To perform this exercise:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Take right foot forward bending the right and left leg to 90 degrees.
  3. Push back up with the right foot to starting position.
  4. Aim for 10-15 reps per leg.

For additional lunge ideas for seniors – check out this article:  Best Modified Lunges for Seniors: Easy Exercises to Stay Active

warrior 1

Standing Calf Raises

Standing calf raises are an excellent exercise to strengthen your calf muscles, which are for important for balance and stability.

To perform this exercise:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder to hip width apart.
  2. Hold onto a chair or wall for support.
  3. Slowly rise up onto the balls of your feet.
  4. Hold for a few seconds, and then lower your heels back down.
  5. Aim for 10-15 repetitions.
calf raises
calf raises with resistance bands

Sit-to-Stand

Sit-to-stands are a functional exercise that can improve your ability to stand up from a chair or get out of bed.

To perform this exercise:

  1. Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Slowly stand up, avoid using your hands. 
  3. Try using only your leg muscles, and then sit back down.
  4. Aim for 10-15 repetitions.

Squats

After you have mastered sit-to-stands you can progress to squats. 

To perform this exercise:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart
  2. Push your buttocks back as you bend your knees.
  3. Lower your body to 90 degrees.
  4. Aim for 10-15 reps.

For additional information and ideas about squats for seniors, check out this article:  7 Easy Squats for Aging Knees: Tips and Techniques.

Starting position of squat
air squat

Core Strengthening Exercises

As we get older, it’s important to maintain or core strength to support our posture and balance.

Who doesn’t want good posture?

Here are three effective exercises that can help strengthen your core muscles.

Seated Abdominal Press

To perform this exercise:

  1. Sit on a chair with your back straight and your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Place your hands on your thighs, palms down.
  3. Inhale deeply, and as you exhale, contract your abdominal muscles and press your hands down into your thighs.
  4. Hold for a few seconds, then release and repeat for 10-15 reps.

Planks

Planks are a great exercise to strengthen your core.

To perform this exercise:

  1. Lie on your stomach.
  2. Push up onto your toes and elbows.
  3. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds and progress as tolerated. 
planks

Russian Twists

This exercise not only strengthens your core, obliques and helps stretch your lower back.

To do this exercise:

  1. Sit on the floor.
  2. Lean back to 45 degrees.
  3. Bend your knees and if able lift them off the ground.
  4. Turn your upper body side to side. 
  5. Do 10-15 reps on each side.
Russian twist
russian twisst

Try to do 2-3 sets of each exercise.

For additional core exercises for seniors – check out this article:  11 Of the Best Core Exercises for Older Adults: How to be a Stronger, Healthier You

Balance Workouts

Balance exercises are extremely important as we get older.

They help to prevent falls and injuries.

Here are a few bodyweight exercises that can help improve your balance and stability:

Single-Leg Stance

The single-leg stance is simple bodyweight exercise for improving balance.

To perform this exercise:

  1. Stand on one leg and hold the position for 10-30 seconds.
  2. Repeat on the other leg.

You can make this exercise more challenging by closing your eyes or standing on a pillow or cushion.

leg lift for balance

Side Leg Raise

The side leg raise is a great exercise for improving hip stability and balance.

To perform this exercise:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift one leg out to the side.
  3. Hold the position for a few seconds, then lower your leg back down.
  4. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Try to do 10 reps per side.

If you find this challenging, you can start by holding onto a chair or wall for balance.

standing leg lifts
side leg raise

Cardiovascular Exercises

It is also important to keep your heart healthy and strong. 

Cardiovascular exercises are great for that!. 

Here are a few bodyweight exercises that can get your heart rate up:

Marching in Place

Marching in place is a simple exercise that can be done almost anywhere.

All you need is a little bit of space.

To do this exercise:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Lift your knees up towards your chest, one at a time.
  3. Keep your arms swinging at your sides to help get your heart rate up.
  4. Try to do this exercise for 2-5 minutes at a time.

Step Touch

Step touch is a low-impact exercise that can help get your heart rate up without putting too much stress on your joints.

To do this exercise:

  1. Step to the side with one foot and touch your other foot to the side.
  2. Then, step back to the center and repeat on the other side.
  3. Keep your arms swinging at your sides to help get your heart rate up.
  4. Try to do this exercise for 2-5 minutes at a time.

Safety Tips Before Starting Your At-home Workouts

As a senior, it’s important to make safety your number one priority when starting a new exercise routine.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind before beginning any bodyweight exercises:

  1. Consult with your doctor
  2. Warm up properly
  3. Start slow
  4. Use proper form
  5. Listen to your body

By following these safety tips, you can stay safe while enjoying the many benefits of bodyweight.

Conclusion

Bodyweight exercises are a fantastic way for seniors to build strength, improve balance and maintain overall health.

They can be modified to fit any fitness level.

By including these exercises into your daily routine, you can feel more confident and independent as you age.

Remember to always listen to your body and start slowly, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and try new variations.

With consistency and determination, you will see progress and reap the amazing benefits of these exercises. 

Don’t forget to stay hydrated, warm-up before each session, and consult with your doctor if you have any underlying medical conditions.

It’s time for us all to embrace our age with pride and show that we are strong, capable individuals who refuse to let anything hold us back. 

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