Age shouldn’t take precedence over health and wellbeing, which is exactly why exercises for seniors and the elderly are so essential. The Australian health guidelines advise that over 65s engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity daily. This may sound considerable, especially considering seniors are at an age where their bodies are starting to slow down, however, there are a range of physical activities that count as a part of exercises for older people.


Why exercises for older people are so important

Exercises for seniors significantly impacts every aspect of their wellbeing; from how they look and their physical health, to their mental and emotional states. For example, regular physical activity increases energy levels, contributing to a more vibrant and active lifestyle. The rewards extend into the night as well, with those who exercise regularly reporting enhanced sleep quality, which is necessary for the body’s recovery and overall health. 

Concerning health, as people continue to age their strength and mobility declines, while the likelihood of developing various health conditions rises. Significantly, 3 in every 5 Australians aged 65 and older are living with at least one chronic health condition. With this in mind, how do exercises for the elderly take precedence if their bodies simply aren’t as able as they used to be?


What counts towards 30 minutes of exercise

Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean paying for a gym membership or buying expensive equipment, some of the most beneficial exercises for seniors can be done at home. Many residences for seniors also offer fantastic lifestyle programs and promote physical fitness as a social outlet. Exercises for the elderly can also be included as a part of physical rehabilitation or reablement for those with pre-existing illness or injury.


The best kind of exercises for seniors covers 4 areas: balance, strength, cardio, and mobility.

 Type 1: Balance

What are balance exercises?

Balance exercises engage your core muscles, lower back, and legs, enhancing stability. Incorporating lower-body strength-training exercises will also bolster your balance.


  • Builds strength.
  • Can correct posture, stability, and coordination.
  • Improving balance lowers the risk of falling or bumping into things (trips and falls are often associated with poor balance).


  • Standing on one leg: Holding onto a sturdy chair for support, lift one foot slightly off the ground and hold the position for as long as possible before switching legs. 
  • Heel-to-toe walk: Place the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the opposite foot each time you take a step. Your heel and toes should touch or almost touch. 
  • Side leg raises: Standing behind a chair and holding onto it for support, lift one leg out to the side, keep your back straight, and avoid tilting the hips. Then lower the leg and repeat on the other side.
  • Back leg raises: While holding onto a chair, lift one leg straight back without bending the knee or pointing the toes. Hold the position for a moment before lowering the leg.
  • Chair stands: Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your arms crossed over your chest. Stand up without using your hands and slowly sit back down.
  • Toe lifts: Stand straight and lift your heels off the ground, so you are standing on your toes. Hold this position, then slowly lower your heels back to the ground.
  • Balance walk: Raise your arms to your sides at shoulder height and walk in a straight line, placing one foot in front of the other, focusing on maintaining balance.
  • Tai Chi: This gentle form of martial arts focuses on slow, controlled movements and is excellent for improving balance and stability.


  • Consider having someone supervise or assist you, particularly in the early stages.
  • Consistency is key, and with regular practice balance exercises will become easier.
  • Gradually increase the number of repetitions as your balance exercises become more manageable.  
  • Modify exercises as needed to either increase or decrease their difficulty.
  • Starting with your nondominant side makes the exercise easier when you switch to your dominant side.
  • Advance to eyes-closed exercises once you are comfortable, starting with one and then onto both eyes closed. This will enhance your balance and spatial awareness.

Type 2: Strength Training

What are strength training exercises:

Strength exercises focus on key muscle groups, using light weights or body resistance to safely promote physical health and well-being.


  • Enhances muscle strength.
  • Helps increase bone density, therefore reducing the risk of fractures. 
  • Promotes joint flexibility and keeps joints more mobile.
  • Improves balance, coordination and stability, helping seniors to maintain their independence.


  • Chair squats: Stand in front of a chair and lower yourself down until your backside touches the chair, then stand back up. This strengthens the legs and core. 
  • Wall push-ups: Face a wall, place your hands on it at shoulder width, and perform push-ups to strengthen the chest, shoulders, and arms. 
  • Seated leg lifts: Sit on a sturdy chair, straighten one leg at a time, and lift it off the floor. This targets the thigh muscles and improves leg strength. 
  • Bicep curls: Using light dumbbells or water bottles, curl the weights towards your shoulders to strengthen the biceps. Can be done standing or seated. 
  • Step-ups: Using a low step or a sturdy box, step up with one foot and bring the other to meet it, then step back down. This improves leg strength and balance. 
  • Shoulder press: With light weights in both hands, lift your arms overhead to strengthen your shoulders and upper arms. This can also be performed seated. 
  • Side leg raises: Lying on your side or standing, lift your leg away from your body. This strengthens the hips and thighs. 
  • Toe stands: Stand behind a chair for support and rise up onto your toes, then slowly lower back down. This exercise strengthens the calves and improves balance.


  • Start with light weights or choose weights that are appropriate for your fitness level. 
  • Begin with low intensity and gradually increase as your strength improves.
  • Focus on maintaining correct posture and movements to prevent injuries.
  • Incorporate rest days to allow your body time to recover between sessions and prevent overexertion.
  • Start each session with a warm-up and end with a cool-down to reduce the risk of muscle strain.
  • Listen to your body and if you experience pain or discomfort, modify or skip exercises as needed.

Type 3: Cardio

What are cardio exercises:

Cardio exercises are low impact physical activities that gently engage major muscle groups through continuous movement.


  • Helps to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Improves heart health and lung capacity.
  • Regular cardio can enhance cognitive function (memory, attention, processing speed etc.)
  • Elevates mood through the release of endorphins.


  • Walking: A gentle, low-impact exercise that can be adjusted to your fitness level. 
  • Swimming: Provides a full-body workout with minimal stress on the joints. 
  • Water aerobics: Offers resistance training with the buoyancy of water to reduce impact. 
  • Cycling: Stationary or outdoor biking is a great low-impact cardio workout. 
  • Dancing: Low-impact dance classes like ballroom or line dancing can be fun and heart-healthy. 
  • Light jogging: For those who are more active, a gentle jog on a soft surface can be beneficial. 
  • Elliptical training: Provides a low-impact cardiovascular workout that mimics walking or jogging. 
  • Rowing machine: Offers a full-body workout that’s easy on the joints, suitable for indoor exercise. 
  • Chair aerobics: A seated exercise program that raises the heart rate and improves stamina safely.


  • Incorporate gentle stretching and slow movements to begin and end your workout sessions.
  • Wear comfortable, supportive footwear to reduce injury risk.
  • Monitor your heart rate and keep your exercise intensity within a safe range for your age and health condition.

Type 4: Mobility

What are mobility exercises:

Mobility exercises for seniors at home, aims to increase overall mobility, making daily activities easier and reducing the risk of falls. They are specifically designed to enhance flexibility, reduce stiffness, and improve the range of motion in joints and muscles. 


  • Enhances overall joint flexibility by increasing the range of motion, and reducing stiffness and pain in joints.
  • Encourages alignment and balance, leading to better posture and reduced back pain.
  • Improves movement efficiency, making daily activities much easier.
  • Promotes better blood circulation and flow to muscles and joints, aiding in recovery and overall health.


  • Arm circles: Extend your arms to the sides and gently make small to large circles to improve shoulder mobility. 
  • Neck stretches: Slowly tilt your head from side to side, then forward and back, to ease neck stiffness. 
  • Ankle rolls: Lift one foot and rotate the ankle clockwise and then counterclockwise to enhance ankle flexibility. 
  • Seated knee lifts: While sitting, lift one knee toward your chest at a time, holding it with your hands to stretch the lower back and hips.
  • Hip circles: Stand and hold onto a chair for support, then move your hips in a circular motion to increase hip joint mobility. 
  • Torso twists: Seated or standing, gently twist your torso from side to side, keeping your hips facing forward to improve spinal mobility. 
  • Leg swings: Hold onto a chair or wall for balance and gently swing one leg forward and back, then side to side, to loosen the leg and hip muscles. 
  • Wrist bends: Extend your arm and gently bend the wrist up and down, then side to side, to reduce wrist and forearm stiffness.


  • Warm up first with light stretching or a brief walk to prepare your body for movement.
  • Use props such as chairs, walls, or exercise bands for support and stability.
  • Include a range of exercises to improve mobility in all major joints.
  • Focus on proper technique over the range of motion to avoid injuries.


Make Exercise A Part Of Your Every Day

Incorporating activities from each of these 4 areas every day will do wonders for your physical health and wellness, and many of these exercises for seniors can be done at home

Exercise also doesn’t have to be painful, many exercises for older people can be a great avenue for relaxation, building self confidence, socialising and making new friends through group activities or fitness classes. 

Simple ways you can build physical activity into your day, include:

  • Doing stretching or mobility exercises while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil or watching your favourite TV show.
  • Walking for 10 minutes after each meal.
  • Parking your car further away from the shops and carrying your groceries (if they aren’t too heavy).
  • Climbing the stairs instead of taking a lift or escalator.
  • Taking your grandchildren to the park (including walking to the park, lifting and carrying smaller children off equipment).
  • Walking your dog at least 2 times a day. 
  • Washing your car. 
  • Doing yard and garden maintenance work.
  • Incorporating stretching and balance exercises into your housework (for example, while mopping or vacuuming).

Regardless of your age, weight, or even health status, merely by incorporating a few of these diverse movements and activities into your routine each day, you’ll hit your 30 minute target and it won’t feel like you’re exercising at all!


Final tips regarding exercises for older people

Now you can clearly see how exercises for seniors can be incorporated into daily life, here are a few more valuable tips:  

  • Consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise program (especially if you have any medical conditions, or have had a stroke or heart attack). This will ensure the exercises are most suitable for you.
  • Sit down and take a break when needed. 
  • Drink plenty of water and eat before you do these exercises. This will help you feel more grounded, especially if you have any concerns with feeling dizzy or lightheaded.


Keep Fighting Fit

Focusing on exercises for older people that improve balance, strength, cardio, and mobility fitness is paramount for better physical health and mental wellbeing. This is also why when considering aged care homes, look for residences that take a holistic approach to aged care by offering a variety of fitness activities suited for the over 65s.

There are also plenty of resources online to help understand healthy ageing for over 65s. For further information about moving into aged care at Aurrum, or to learn more about what Aurrum offers in terms of lifestyle programs and exercises for the elderly, phone 1800 287 786 and speak with our friendly and helpful team.