senior living exercise

Discover the Benefits of Senior Living Exercise Programs

Senior living exercise programs may differ from one community to the next, but the benefits of providing an engaging and inclusive lifestyle in a senior-friendly environment remain the same. Not only do fitness and wellness programs benefit residents, studies show they can also extend their stay in a facility up to 30 months and reduce falls by 38%. According to the CDC, short intervals of moderate physical activity (about 5-10 minutes) daily provide several health benefits for seniors:  

  • Maintain the ability to live independently and reduce the risk of falling.  
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.  
  • Improves stamina and muscle strength.  
  • Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, and bolsters feelings of well-being.  
  • Helps maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints.  
  • Helps reduce joint swelling and pain associated with arthritis.  

One of the best physical activities seniors can do is yoga because it focuses on fitness, wellness and relaxation. Yoga – derived from the Sanskrit word “yuji”, meaning yoke or union of mind and body – is an excellent low-impact activity and is great for people of all fitness levels. Yoga involves a combination of gentle stretching, deep breathing and meditation. In addition to the benefits of exercise, yoga specifically helps improve cardiovascular endurance, as well as boosts mental fitness in areas like memory, clarity and focus.  

One of the things that makes yoga so popular is that anyone can do it, regardless of physical limitations. But is that really true? What if, due to age, mobility or injury, some of your residents need to practice from a chair?  

No problem!  

Chair yoga, or doing yoga stretches from a seated position, is an excellent way to achieve physical exercise. If you have residents with balance issues, or those who are looking to start their yoga practice slowly, then chair yoga is a great place to begin! And best of all, people who practice chair yoga can enjoy many of the same benefits as someone who practices “regular” yoga, including help with stress, pain and fatigue, as well as help with joint lubrication and balance. Classes can also help residents become more social and reduce the risk of isolation and loneliness.  

If this sounds like a great exercise program for your residents, read on!  

What Do You Need for Chair Yoga? 

While not much is needed to start a community program for chair yoga or seated stretches, there are a few essential equipment items:  

  • A stable, armless chair  
  • A flat, level surface for your chair  
  • Space to fully extend arms and legs 
  • A qualified instructor to guide residents safely   

3 Great Chair Yoga Workouts 

If you don’t have someone who can teach chair yoga at your community, there are a lot of excellent resources available online. We’ve put together free Chair Yoga online tutorials to help get your residents started. These workouts can be done with groups of all sizes, and caregivers can also be present to provide aid if needed. 

17-Minute Chair Yoga Workout 

This easy, 17-minute chair yoga workout, Chair Yoga with Adriene is a great place for your residents to start! The workout begins and ends with centering breathing exercises and several great stretches and chair yoga positions throughout. She also explains each move verbally and discusses how the body benefits from each movement, while also showing the proper way to achieve each position. 


15-Minute Chair Yoga Workout 

This is a great chair yoga workout video because it shows a senior doing each move alongside the instructor. This workout features ten moves that integrate stretching and breathing. 

10-Minute Chair Yoga Workout

This chair yoga with Lorraine Ladish workout is slightly shorter than the previous routines at 10 minutes long, and is broken up into 4 sections: warmup, hip release, warrior and goddess. 

Additional Exercises for Seniors 

Exercises like chair yoga are an effective way to keep your residents healthy, happy and engaged. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise is an essential tool to help your residents increase their strength, mobility and stamina as well as reduce joint pain and fatigue. The CDC notes that physically active adults often experience a sense of greater well-being and a higher quality of life. Here are some more ideas for other physical activities for all ability and mobility levels, that can be added to any senior living exercise program!  


In addition to being a lot of fun and a great way to increase social interactions, dancing can also boost a senior’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. According to a Journal of Aging and Physical Activity study, dancing can help seniors improve their aerobic power, balance, agility and gait. Learning new movements and the social aspects of dance can also help seniors stay mentally sharp as well. Consider bringing an instructor to your community for weekly or monthly ballroom dance lessons. Or perhaps consider hosting a line or square dance event. The repetitive steps for many of these types of dances are easy to learn and don’t require a partner, making them an excellent way for a group of seniors to exercise and connect with one another!  

Low-Impact Exercises 

Low-impact exercises are ideal for seniors because they help strengthen muscles and don’t require any moves that could lead to potential injuries. Some options for low-impact exercises include:  

  • Tai Chi: an ancient Chinese art that involves smooth, flowing movements that can help enhance body and mental health.  
  • Zumba: a Latin dance fitness workout that can help seniors improve their cardio, coordination and balance.  
  • Walking: this is an excellent way for seniors to get their blood pumping! Studies show that walking for 30 minutes a day for five days a week may help reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 19%  
  • Pilates: this is an overall body exercise that can help seniors build muscle, and improve posture, mobility and flexibility. 

Whether your residents are interested in staying fit, learning a new skill, or simply making new friends, we hope these ideas for senior living exercise programs spark an interest in your senior living community!  

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