Published on 15 October 2022

    It is important to motivate older adults to maintain an active lifestyle at home to prevent deconditioning and muscle loss.

    Exercise is a key part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle – and seniors are no exception.

    When it comes to the well-being of older adults, it is important for family members and caregivers to motivate your loved ones to maintain an active lifestyle at home, in order to prevent deconditioning and muscle loss.

    There are three different types of exercise needed for good overall conditioning

    Types of ExerciseBenefitsHow often?
    Aerobic exercises

    Raises heart rate, improves blood flow, and makes you breathe faster and feel warmer. This is good for heart and lung health, stamina, and endurance.

    • Do 20 to 30 minutes each day
    • 5 days a week
    • 150 minutes each week
    Resistance exercises

    Puts tension on the muscles, promotes muscle growth, and builds strength. This lowers the risk of falls and improves function for everyday activities.

    • Do 8 to 10 types of exercises
    • 10 to 15 repetitions per exercise set
    • 2 to 4 sets
    • At least two times a week on non-consecutive days
    Stretching exercises

    Increases flexibility and keeps muscles limber to prevent injury and improve balance.

    Immobility causes muscles to shorten and become tight, but stretching helps to lengthen muscles, maintain elasticity, and contribute to daily function.

    • Hold each stretch for 30 seconds
    • Start gently and increase intensity to build the stretch
    • Repeat each stretch 2 to 3 times
    • Stretch every day that you exercise
    Balance exercises`Balance exercises improves the ability to control and stabilise the body and is particularly important for older adults. With age, proprioception (the ability to know where you are in space) declines and affects balance.
    • Hold each pose for about 15 to 20 seconds
    • Use a chair or wall for support
    • Do balance exercises as often as you like to improve your stability


    Get your heart pumping

    • Some options for aerobic exercise include: brisk walking, swimming, using an elliptical machine, stair climbing, or cycling on a bicycle or seated pedal bike

    • If your loved one has limited mobility, you can assist by standing on their weaker side or opposite the walking aid. Stand close to them and if necessary, hold the back of the pants or waist for added support 

    • Consider bringing along a wheelchair to allow for seated breaks

    • For walking safety in the community, avoid uneven surfaces, slopes, and wet areas to prevent falls

    Use the ‘talk test’ to gauge aerobic intensity
    Can you talk during the activity?
    Yes, but you cannot singNo, you must pause to breathe
    Moderate intensityVigorous intensity

    Build strength and function

    Resistance exercise builds strength by putting muscles under tension using body weight or small weights. Any household item can be a weight! Get creative – use water bottles, tin cans, or small bags of rice.

    Adaptations: Too difficult? Remove the weight or use lighter ones. Too easy? Increase from 10 to 15 repetitions. Adaptations: Too difficult? Remove the weight or use lighter ones. Too easy? Increase from 10 to 15 repetitions. Adaptations: Too easy? Do the same exercise while standing and increase from 10 to 15 repetitions. Want a challenge? Move further from the wall to increase the intensity. Adaptations: Too difficult? Sit closer to the edge of the chair and use a walking frame for support. Have someone stand on the weaker side and lend some support by holding the back of the pants and giving a slight pull to help. Want a challenge? Do the same exercise but with arms crossed over the chest instead of pushing off the armrests. Adaptations: Too easy? Increase from 10 to 15 repetitions. Adaptations: Too easy? Increase from 10 to 15 repetitions. Want a challenge? Do the same exercise but standing up, while you hold on to the back of a chair for stability. Make sure you are lifting upwards instead of leaning forwards into the chair. Keep limber and nimble – tips for stretching exercises When stretching, remember to start slowly and gently, and move until you feel a slight pull on the muscles. You should not feel any sharp pain. Do not jerk or force your way into a pose – but work your way up gradually. As long as you feel a stretch in the muscle, you are stretching. It is not necessary to force yourself into a fixed shape. Always remember to breathe during a stretch. Stable and able – tips for balance exercises Good balance plays a part in almost every daily activity, including walking, standing, getting out of a chair, or leaning over to tie your shoes. Balance training helps strengthen the muscles in the legs and core that keep you upright, improve stability, and help prevent falls. Cross your arm across your chest Use your other arm to pull your crossed arm further across your body, keep your shoulder down Arm exercises