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Get Moving! A Guide to the Best Exercises for Seniors

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, regular exercise makes you stronger, improves your balance, prevents chronic disease and brightens your mood. Staying active also makes it much easier to enjoy life in McLean, Virginia. From Great Falls Park to the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, McLean has no shortage of recreational opportunities. Best of all, it's close to the world-class museums, five-star restaurants and national landmarks of Washington, D.C.

At Vinson Hall Retirement Community, we offer group fitness classes and personal training sessions to help you stay strong at every age. These are some of the senior-friendly exercises our trainers recommend for building strength and stamina, improving your balance and increasing your flexibility.

Exercises for Building Strength and Stamina

When you think about strength training, do you picture free weights or complicated weight machines? If so, we have great news — you can easily strengthen your muscles without any specialized equipment. Get started with these exercises for seniors.

Chair Squats

While standing in front of a sturdy chair, extend your arms until they're parallel to the ground. Your feet should be a little more than shoulder-width apart. Follow these steps to complete the squat:

1. Lower yourself toward the chair while counting to four.

2. Pause.

3. Return to a standing position while you count to two.

4. Repeat for a total of 10 squats per set.

Wall Push-Ups

With wall push-ups, there's no need to get down on the floor to exercise. All you need is a wall and a little bit of space to move around. Here's how to perform a wall push-up:

1. Stand about arm's length from the wall.

2. Lean forward and place your hands flat against the wall.

3. Bend your elbows and lower your body toward the wall.

4. Count to four while keeping your feet planted on the ground.

5. Hold the position for 5 seconds.

6. Push back until your arms are straight. Avoid locking your elbows as you return to the starting position.

Exercises for Improving Balance

As we age it is important to maintain balance. Good balance reduces the risk of falls and makes it easier to enjoy fitness classes, arts and crafts, holiday parties and other activities available at Vinson Hall Retirement Community. Improve your balance with these senior-friendly exercises.

Single Limb Stance

Before you start, grab a sturdy chair — one that doesn't have wheels. While holding on to the back of the chair, perform these steps:

1. Lift your right foot off the ground.

2. Maintain your balance on your left foot, holding the position for as long as you can.

3. Gently lower your right foot to the ground.

4. Switch feet and perform the same sequence with your left foot.

Repeat these movements a total of 10 times per set.

Back Leg Raises

Back leg raises are designed to strengthen your lower back and glutes, giving you better balance. You'll need the same sturdy chair you used for your single limb stances. When you're ready, perform these steps:

1. Hold on to the back of the chair.

2. Lift your right leg straight back, without bending your knee or flexing your foot.

3. Hold the position for 1 second.

4. Repeat this movement 10 to 15 times.

5. Switch to the left leg and do another set of 10 to 15.

Exercises for Increasing Flexibility

Good flexibility reduces the risk of injury while you're out walking our beautifully landscaped paths or taking advantage of McLean's many parks and walking trails. These two exercises can help you maximize your range of motion.

Standing Quadriceps Stretch

You'll need a sturdy chair or a couch for this one. Start by standing behind the chosen piece of furniture and holding onto it with your left hand. Then perform these steps:

1. Bend your right knee.

2. Use your right hand to grab your right leg by the ankle.

3. Pull your right leg toward your buttocks.

4. Hold the position for at least 10 seconds.

5. Lower your right leg.

6. Repeat this sequence with your left leg.

7. Do 10 to 15 repetitions on each side.

Overhead Stretch

Follow these steps to increase flexibility in your back, abdomen and shoulders:

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

2. Raise your arms over your head.

3. Lean to the left, moving slowly.

4. Hold the position for at least 10 seconds before returning to the starting position.

5. Repeat this sequence on your right side.

6. Do 10 to 15 repetitions on each side of your body.

If needed, you can adapt this exercise by sitting on a chair while you raise your arms and stretch to the side.

You really can't over emphasize the importance of mobility and balance for older adults. That's why Vinson Hall Retirement Community offers personal training, group fitness classes, pool volleyball matches, pickleball games and more. Our staff members are also happy to provide personalized advice and help residents identify the best exercises for their specific needs. To learn more about how residents stay active, schedule a tour.

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