10 Exercises for seniors to increase strength & balance

Published on: 6th December 2019

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As we get older, frailty becomes an increasing concern for many of us. However, studies have shown that weight training of the major muscle groups is one of the highest-rated interventions in terms of effectiveness and ease of implementation.

To target all the major muscle groups we need to do exercises that focus on the: feet, legs; hips; back; abdomen; chest; shoulders; and arms. The 10 Exercises for seniors to increase strength & balance do just this:

  1. Marching on the spot

This is a great way to warm up. Stand up straight and bring your right knee up as high as it will go. Drop your right knee back down to the ground and repeat with the left. If it is hard to balance, you can do this in front of a counter to balance. Do this for at least two minutes and 20 repetitions.

  1. Balance on one leg

Stand behind something solid to hold on to if needed. Your aim is to be able to stand on one leg for a minute without holding on to anything in front of you. You should also practice this on both legs. You can stand next to your stairlift for support.

  1. Shoulder rolls

This can be done in a chair or standing. First, rotate both shoulders forwards with an up-down motion 10 times. Second, rotate both shoulders backwards with an up-down motion 10 times. Finally, try to do opposite motions with each shoulder 10 times.

Why not also read: 7 Core exercises for seniors

  1. Pushups against a wall

Pushups against a wall cause less strain on the joints but help to target arm, back, chest, and shoulder muscles. Stand up to an arm’s length from a wall clear of any obstructions. Then, with palms flat against the wall and shoulder-width apart push yourself into and out from the wall up to 20 times.

  1. Overhead shoulder press

This one is great with low weight dumbbells, or two equally weighted balls, in each hand. With your feet hip-width apart, hold the dumbbells parallel to the head with fingers and palms facing forwards. Slowly extend your arms upwards and repeat at least 20 times.

  1. Calf stretches

These are good to do seated to focus on getting a deep stretch without having to worry about balance. Keep your legs and back straight and loop something like a towel around your left foot. Push the foot into the towel and pull the towel towards you, keeping your leg straight. Repeat 4 times for each leg, holding for 15 seconds.

  1. Backwards leg raises

Stand behind something solid to hold on to. Lift your left leg backwards, making sure to keep it as straight as you can and without pointing the toes. Return the leg to the floor, then repeat 10 times with both legs.

  1. Side leg raises

Again, stand behind something to hold on to with your feet less than hip-width apart. Keeping your back straight, lift your left leg as far to the side as you can whilst keeping your toe pointed forward, then lower it down. Repeat with both legs 10 times.

  1. Ankle Rolls

This helps with balance and ankle mobility. Point your right toe to towards the floor and rotate your foot clockwise on the point of your big toe 10 times. Repeat anti-clockwise 10 times and on both feet.

  1. Gentle squats

Hip flexors tighten up easily. Squatting helps to prevent this. Keep your feet hip-width apart with feet facing forwards. Slowly bend your knees pushing your buttocks backwards as if sitting down, keeping your weight on your heels. Hold on to something solid if you need to for balance. Repeat 15 times to finish.