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What Exercises Should Seniors Avoid?

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A close-up of powerlifting equipment. Many seniors have back and posture issues that make it difficult to lift weights correctly, and incorrect form can severely damage the back, shoulder, and arm muscles.

Numerous studies have shown that exercise has significant health benefits, which become more important as we age. Regular physical activity and exercise for seniors improve both mental and physical health, allowing you to maintain your independence as you age.

As important as exercise is for older adults, all seniors must consider their current health and physical condition when deciding which workouts to do. 

As a senior, if you push too hard and injure yourself while exercising, your injury may take longer to heal or cause complications. Here’s a list of exercises that seniors should avoid:

  • Deadlifts
  • High impact aerobics
  • Running stairs
  • Weighted squats
  • Leg Presses

When beginning any new form of exercise it’s recommended to speak with your doctor or physician before starting.


Bodybuilders often incorporate deadlifts into their fitness regimens, which involve lifting a heavy weight off the floor. Although deadlifting can be done by seniors with years of lifting experience, they’re generally not recommended for those new to strength training.

Many seniors have back and posture issues that make it difficult to lift weights correctly, and incorrect form can severely damage the back, shoulder, and arm muscles.

Try Dumbbell Strength Training Instead

Strength training has been shown to help you manage your weight while also alleviating the symptoms of diabetes, osteoporosis, back pain, and depression. Strength training also promotes a faster metabolism and better glucose control.

If done correctly, dumbbell exercises are some of the best ways for seniors to strengthen their bodies. Dumbbell exercises can allow you to isolate and strengthen muscle groups while improving balance and flexibility.

The following are some recommended dumbbell exercises for seniors:

  • Bent-over row
  • Tricep extension
  • Bicep curl
  • Overhead press
  • Front raise

High Impact Aerobics

High-impact aerobic workouts, in addition to potentially damaging joints, can increase the risk of injury. Because of this, seniors should generally avoid high-impact aerobics.

Try Low Impact Exercise Like Walking Instead

Walking is one of the least stressful and most accessible forms of exercise. It’s more difficult for some than others, so distance and step goals vary from person to person.

For the general population, 10,000 steps per day is recommended for a healthy lifestyle, but those who have difficulty walking or joint pain may set a lower goal. Walking helps you live a healthier lifestyle by strengthening your muscles and lowering your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and colon cancer.

A young couple running upstairs on city stairs. Many seniors struggle to maintain their balance as they age, and stairs account for more than half of all falls.

Running Stairs

Many seniors struggle to maintain their balance as they age, and stairs account for more than half of all falls. Because of this, running up and down long flights of stairs is generally not a good form of exercise for seniors, especially if they have any joint issues.

Because leg muscles can be easily targeted with other exercises, running stairs is generally not worth the risk of falling and injuring yourself.

Try Leg Strengthening Exercises Instead

If you’re concerned about slips and falls, it’s a good idea to learn how to improve your balance and strength through a regular exercise regimen. Working out your legs can improve mobility, flexibility, and strength while also reducing lower back pain. Some ideas for seniors to strengthen their legs include:

  • Calf raises
  • Lunges
  • Ankle circles
  • Knee extensions
  • Marching in place

Weighted Squats

Weighted squats can pose several dangers when performed by older adults. Excessive pressure is placed on the knee joints, which can result in damage. There is also the risk of losing your balance and falling while standing up from a weighted squat. It’s generally better to avoid weighted squats than risk serious injury.

Try Water Aerobics Instead

Water aerobics has grown in popularity among people of all ages, but especially among seniors. Water exercise is ideal for those suffering from arthritis and other forms of joint pain because the buoyancy of the water reduces stress on your joints.

Furthermore, water provides natural resistance, eliminating the need for weights in strength training. Water aerobics exercises can help improve your strength, flexibility, and balance while putting the least amount of strain on your body.

Leg Presses

Leg presses are a form of exercise that works the leg muscles and glutes. They’re not, however, generally recommended for seniors, as leg press exercises can put excess strain on leg muscles. Seniors prone to osteoporosis should avoid this exercise to help avoid knee injuries.

Try Resistance Bands Instead

Resistance bands are stretchy rubber strips that add resistance to workouts while putting less strain on your body. They’re simple to use and suitable for beginners.

Resistance band workouts are becoming increasingly popular due to the low initial cost of materials, making them ideal for at-home exercise. Furthermore, these exercises are excellent for core strengthening, which improves posture, mobility, and balance.

Wellness for Life at Urbana Place

Exercise has been shown to prevent disease, lower the risk of falls, improve mental health and well-being, strengthen social ties, and improve cognitive function in the aging population.

When exercising, it’s important to make sure you’re doing appropriate movements for your body and your abilities. If you’re interested in the services & amenities including opportunities to get some exercise at Urbana Place Senior living, book a tour with us. We’d love to show you how our members stay active and live a healthier lifestyle!

Written by Lifespark

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