5 Top Exercises for Older Adults

Staying Active

Maintaining an active lifestyle as we age leads to a much more fulfilling life experience. Regular exercise offers countless benefits, from improved mobility to enhanced mental well-being. For older adults, finding the right exercises is key to maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle. This post outlines the 5 top exercises for older adults that can help improve strength, balance, and overall fitness. 

Exercises For Older Adults

1. Walking

A group of six elderly individuals enjoy a walk together on a sunny day, strolling along a paved path in a lush, green park. The group is diverse, with members smiling and appearing engaged in conversation as they walk. One of the. 5 top exercises for older adults

Walking is one of the simplest and most effective exercises older adults can incorporate into their daily routine. It’s low-impact, making it gentle on the joints while offering great cardiovascular benefits. Regular walking can improve heart health, boost mood, and help maintain a healthy weight.


  • Low impact and easy to start
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Enhances mood and mental well-being

Tips for getting started:

  • Start with short, manageable distances and gradually increase as your fitness level improves
  • Choose safe, flat walking paths or indoor tracks
  • Wear comfortable, supportive footwear

2. Swimming and Water Aerobics

Two elderly women smile while participating in a water aerobics class, holding foam dumbbells in a swimming pool. The setting is an outdoor pool area with a tiled edge and clear, refreshing water. This is one of the 5 top exercises for older adults

Swimming and water aerobics are fantastic full-body workouts that are easy on the joints. Water-based exercises are especially beneficial for those with arthritis or mobility issues, providing a great way to stay active without putting stress on the body. Water aerobics classes can also be a fun, social activity.


  • Low-impact on joints, ideal for those with arthritis or mobility issues
  • Full-body workout that improves strength and flexibility
  • Can be a social activity if done in a class environment

Tips for getting started:

  • Look for local pools with senior-friendly programs. Parks and recreation programs and senior living communities are  great places to start
  • Start with beginner classes to learn basic techniques
  • Look for online instructional videos if you want to do this at home (try Googling water aerobics videos)

3. Strength Training

An elderly woman smiles while lifting purple dumbbells during a group fitness class, with two other participants in the background also engaged in strength training exercises. The setting appears to be a brightly lit exercise studio. This is one of the top 5 exercises for older adults

Strength training is crucial for maintaining muscle mass and bone density, which can decrease with age. Whether you do this in the gym or at home, strength exercises using light weights, resistance bands, or even body weight can help reduce the risk of falls and improve overall functional fitness. 


  • Helps maintain muscle mass and bone density
  • Reduces the risk of falls and fractures
  • Improves overall functional fitness

Tips for getting started:

  • Use light weights or resistance bands
  • Focus on proper form and technique. There are countless apps and videos available online to guide you
  • Consider working with a trainer who specializes in senior fitness

4. Yoga and Stretching

A smiling elderly man performs a seated leg stretch exercise in a bright, cozy bedroom with neutral-toned decor. He extends his arms and legs while seated on a chair, with a bed, small table, and potted plant visible in the background. This is one of the 5 top exercises for older adults

Yoga and stretching both improve flexibility, balance, and core strength. These exercises also promote relaxation and reduce stress, making them perfect for maintaining physical and mental health. You can modify yoga balance exercises to suit various fitness levels, and you can perform many poses using a chair for support.


  • Enhances flexibility and balance
  • Reduces stress and promotes relaxation
  • Can be modified to suit various fitness levels

Tips for getting started:

  • Find a senior-friendly yoga class or follow online videos
  • Use props like blocks and straps to support poses
  • Practice gentle stretches daily to maintain flexibility

5. Tai Chi

A group of elderly individuals practice Tai Chi together outdoors, focusing on their movements with serene expressions. The woman in the foreground wears glasses and a light blue shirt, while others in the background mirror her motions, emphasizing the calm and meditative nature of the exercise. This is one of the 5 top exercises for older adults

Tai Chi, a shoe-in for our 5 top exercises for older adults, is a gentle exercise that involves slow, flowing movements, making it ideal for older adults. Practicing Tai Chi improves balance and coordination, promotes mental focus, and reduces stress. You can practice Tai Chi at home or in a group setting.


  • Improves balance and coordination
  • Promotes mental focus and stress reduction
  • Gentle, flowing movements are easy on the joints

Tips for getting started:

  • Join a local Tai Chi group or follow instructional videos
  • Practice regularly to learn the sequences
  • Wear comfortable clothing and supportive footwear

Wrapping it Up

Most older adults will tell you they want to maintain as much independence as possible. Staying healthy and fit is an important factor in making that a reality. These 5 top exercises for older adults can help improve strength, balance, and overall health. Exercise can also be a wonderful activity you can enjoy with your loved one, making it a time for fitness, bonding, and creating memories.

*Before starting these 5 top exercises for older adults or any new exercise routine, it’s always a good idea to consult a healthcare provider.

Disclaimer: The content on this site is meant for general informational purposes and should not be considered professional advice. While we strive for accuracy, we recommend consulting experts for specific guidance. We are not responsible for any decisions made based on this information.

Liz Craven
Liz Craven

Liz Craven, co-publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide alongside her husband Wes, brings a blend of personal experience and heartfelt dedication to her work. Their path in eldercare started with a family story — caring for Wes' grandmother, Mabel, who faced Alzheimer's. This personal chapter not only highlighted the complexities of eldercare but also ignited their passion to support others in similar situations. Later, Liz and Wes filled the caregiver role three more times for their parents. Through the Sage Aging ElderCare Guide, Liz offers a mix of empathetic insight and practical advice, making eldercare more approachable and less daunting for families. Her commitment shines through in every piece of advice, aiming to ease the journey for others as they navigate the world of eldercare.

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