Being strong, stable, and flexible is important at any age, but older adults often struggle with daily movements because they’re not quite as flexible or as strong as they want to be. This workout, which is focused primarily on the lower body (although there are some upper body exercises included), is specifically designed to work on strength, stability and flexibility to help you move better with a specific focus on getting you strong enough to get up and down from the floor in a safe way.
See your doctor if you have any injuries, illnesses or other medical conditions.
- Perform each exercise for the suggested length of time or number of reps, focusing on slow, controlled movements and good form.
- Beginners, do 1 set of each exercise. More advanced exercisers can do 1-3 sets, resting about 20-60 seconds between sets
- You can also add weight for more intensity to some of the exercises
- Do this workout 2-3 non-consecutive days a week. If your goal is to get up and down from the floor more easily, practice these step by step moves regularly to see how you’re doing
Hold a light medicine ball or weight straight up overhead. Lift the right knee up to waist level while bringing the arms down, touching the weight to the knee. Return to start and repeat on the left side. Alternate knees and repeat for 30-60 seconds.2
Straight Leg Lifts
Stand next to a wall for balance if needed, shift the weight to one leg and lift the other leg straight up as high as you can, keeping the knee as straight as possible. Focus on squeezing the front of the thighs. Add a resistance band or ankle weight for more intensity if needed. Lower and repeat for 12 reps on each side.3
Stand in split stance, feet about 3 feet apart using a chair or wall for balance. Keeping torso straight, bend knees and lower body towards the floor without allowing front knee to bend over the toe (you should see the tip of your shoe). Push through the heel to come back up without locking the knees. Repeat for 1 set of 12 reps and then repeat the series with the other leg forward.4
Lie face down on a mat and place the hands behind the head. Contract the abs and keep them contracted throughout the exercise. Squeeze the back to lift the chest a few inches off the floor. Lower and repeat for 12 reps.5
On hands and knees, raise right arm and left leg up until level with the body, holding your balance and keeping torso tight. Lower and repeat, alternating sides for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.6
Stand against a wall and slide down as low as you can, or until your thighs are parallel to the floor. If this is too difficult, stand up a bit and find an angle that engages your thighs. Make sure you put the weight in your heels and squeeze the glutes. Hold this position, keeping the weight in the heels for 30-60 seconds.7
Assisted One Leg Squats
Stand next to a wall or chair for balance, if needed. Shift the weight to one leg and lift the other off the ground or, for a modification, rest on the heel of the foot. Engage the abs and bend the knee of the standing leg into a one-legged squat, taking the hips back and attempting to keep the weight in the heels. You don’t have to lower very far on this one, just a few inches. Stand and repeat for 12 reps on each side.
Stand in front of a chair and squat down, taking the arms out for balance if needed. Either sit all the way down on the chair and stand back up, or squat just until your butt touches the chair and stand up (harder). Repeat for 12 reps.9
Stand a few feet away from a wall or a high stair railing (as shown) and place hands on wall or rail so that they’re just wider than the shoulders. Pull the abs in and, keeping back straight, bend elbows and lower body towards the wall/rail until elbows are at 90 degree angles. Push back to start and repeat for 1 set of 12 reps. 10
Stand holding onto a chair or wall for balance if needed and lift one heel towards the glute, grabbing into the outside of the foot. Keep the knees together and gently pull the heel towards your butt to stretch the quads. For more of a stretch, squeeze the glute. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Sit on the floor, a step or on a chair with one leg stretched out in front of you, the other bent. Sit up tall and then lean forward as far as you comfortably can, stretching the back of the leg. You can grab onto the thigh, calf, ankle or foot to pull you further into the stretch. Hold for 15-30 seconds and switch sides.12
Seated Hip Stretch
Sit in a chair and cross the left ankle over the right knee, pushing down on that left knee gently and feeling a stretch in the left side of the hip and glute. If you need a deeper stretch, you can lean into it. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.