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Exercising in Assisted Living
Exercise Options for Seniors Living in Assisted Living

Keeping a strong body is possible throughout adulthood and far into what people consider the 'elder years'. By making healthy food choices and maintaining an active lifestyle, seniors are stronger and healthier now than ever. You may not think of exercise when you think of 'old age'. Keeping the body moving is a very important part of staying in good shape. Keeping fit is important at any age. As many are fond of saying - age is just a number!

If you plan to start an exercise routine, it is important to know what your body can handle. You should speak with your doctor or other health professional before changing your level of physical activity. Even seniors that are in poor physical condition can do very low impact stretching. Every movement you continue to do can prolong your body's flexibility.

Fitness for Seniors
Fitness for Seniors

Some illnesses or conditions like arthritis need consideration before exercising. Make sure doctors clear all of the residents who want to participate. Some residents can benefit from exercises like leg-lifts from a seated position. This increases circulation while reducing the risk of falling or of straining a muscle. Ankle stretches and arm rotations are easy for most people to do and very beneficial.


Stretching is one of the lowest impact exercises. Range of motion exercises, used extensively in physical therapy settings, are a type of stretching. By flexing your fingers, legs, and arms at all of the major joints, as far as they can go without pain, you are participating in range of motion activity. Reaching, bending, and grasping objects out of reach are a part of stretching. These exercises can keep your body from losing its normal ability to move. Muscles that are not used or stretched can eventually contract - contractions are painful and sometimes irreversible.

Weight Training

Weight training conjure up images of buff men and women. Huge muscles, glistening skin, and Florida beaches during 'strong man' contests. While weight training increases muscle strength, a light weight lifting program created for anyone. Light weight programs are available and designed to increase strength or maintain muscle tone without building huge 'Hulk' type physiques.


Swimming has almost no 'impact' - jostling, thumping, and the like and is an excellent low impact exercise. Of course the resident must have access to a pool.


Walking for Exercise
Walking for Exercise

Residents may notice that, over time with regular exercising, they are able to do more strenuous activities. Start out with short walks and distances, then longer ones as they are able. Make sure the residents who choose to walk for exercise do not have stability or balance issues. If they need equipment like canes and walkers, make sure they use them.

Facilities in neighborhoods with flat, even surfaces for walking out-of-doors are preferred. Some communities also have great, paved paths that are fantastic places to take seniors on outings. They'll not only get some exercise, but fresh air is extremely valuable, too.

Yoga in Assisted Living

Yoga is a form of stretching and muscle-building. The exercises were popular years ago in the New Age movement, but yoga is a proven exercise regime to build strong bodies. Beginning yoga is a form of practice that fits almost anyone's level of strength. Like stretching, yoga can keep your body flexible. This form of exercise also has meditation phases which have helped many find a peaceful balance between mind and body.

Yoga improves overall health, increases relaxation and instills a sense of general well-being by stimulating the body, mind and spirit. Originating in India, it has been popular all over the world over for many years.

Seniors can benefit from yoga. A recent study published by the Journal of Nursing Research has shown that yoga is improving the quality of life for seniors in assisted living facilities. It confirms that yoga exercises lead to better sleep and a decrease in the symptoms of depression. In light of this encouraging news, activity directors at assisted living facilities are incorporating yoga into their programs.

What is Chair Yoga?

Chair yoga is a low-stress, gentle form of exercise that's performed while sitting or standing and using a chair for support and balance. Generally, chair yoga poses are variations on the poses practiced in Hatha yoga. Chair yoga is great for seniors who suffer from the complications of aging and other disabilities. The goal of chair yoga is to improve mental health and over all fitness by practicing deep breathing techniques and exercises that promote circulation and flexibility.

Who Benefits from Yoga?

  • People with a variety of illnesses can enjoy the benefits of yoga. Doctors often recommend yoga for assisted care residents with the following medical conditions:
  • Hypertension
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Arthritis
  • Depression
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Vertigo

What is Hatha Yoga?

As mentioned earlier, chair yoga comes from Hatha yoga, and it involves movements that designed to improve flexibility and range of motion. Participants learn to focus on breathing in an attempt to gain a greater sense of awareness. A resident's well-being is greatly improved by the meditative qualities of the exercise program that calm the mind.

Carol Marak
Carol Marak

After seven years of helping her aging parents, Carol Marak has become a dedicated senior care writer. Since 2007, she has been doing the research to find answers to common concerns: housing, aging and health, staying safe and independent, and planning long-term.