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Exercises for elderly

The impact of various forms of physical activity on physical fitness in the elderly
Type of exercise Disease prevention / benefits The recommended form of movement Daily activity
Endurance, aerobic or cardio exercise
done to improve exercise capacity and cardiovascular and respiratory fitness
 cardiovascular diseases
 respiratory diseases
 obesity and diabetes
 alleviation of stress
 Fast march
 Swimming
 Dance
 Running
 Cycling
 Climbing stairs or uphill
 Nordic walking
 Gymnastic exercises
 Work in the garden (eg. raking leaves)
 Going to the store
 Fun with grandchildren
 Leisure and tourism
 Cleaning (eg .: vacuuming, washing floors)
Strengthening or resistance exercise contributes to increased muscle strength  osteoporosis
 back pain
 obesity and diabetes
 Falls
 exercise with resistance (weights, rubber bands)
 Pilates exercises
 swimming
 Work in the garden (eg. Moving grass clippings)
 Care of young children (carrying)
 Bringing shopping
 Cleaning (moving things, buckets)
 Making renovations
 snow removal
 unscrewing jars
Flexibility exercise refines mobility and increase the range of motion  Pain in joints and spine
 Reducing the risk of injury and downs
 Preparation for other forms of movement
 The stretching exercises
 Tai chi
 Yoga
 Pilates exercises
 swimming
 Putting on shoes, socks
 Household chores eg.: making the bed
 washing, combing hair
Balance and coordination exercise increases accuracy and performance of complex movements  Reducing the risk of injury and falls
 Stimulation of the nervous system
 daily activities done smoothly
 Dance
 Tai Chi
 Pilates exercises
 Yoga
 Reaching a cabinet or shelf while standing on tiptoes
 Going upstairs and downstairs
 Walking on a hilly terrain without falling
 Cycling
Physical activity recommended for the elderly suffering from some diseases
Disease The recommended form of movement Daily activity
Recommendations /
Osteoporosis  Strength training, gymnastics, walking, swimming, cycling (preferably stationary)
 balance and coordination exercise
 Tai Chi
 Pilates
Do not make sudden turns, bends, it's important to keep feet spaced apart from each other and knees bent while
carrying, lifting or pushing objects
Type 2 diabetes, obesity  Marches, swimming, Nordic walking, cycling, moderate-intensity dancing, some exercise to streamline daily activities Do not make intensive efforts after taking insulin
Cardiovascular disease  Marches, swimming, cycling, Nordic walking
 Strength training (if there are no contraindications), Tai Chi, flexibility exercise
Heavy gardening, shoveling wet snow are not recommended,
it is important to correct posture during everyday activities (eg. lifting)
Low back pain  Swimming, gymnastics,
 Pilates excercise
Osteoarthritis  Swimming, cycling, gymnastics, Nordic Walking
 Tai Chi
Frequent breaks should be taken, some orthopaedic equipment (crutches, walkers, etc.) and some aids (e.g. shoehorn) should be used in activities of daily living
Neoplasms Marching, running, swimming, dancing, tennis, Nordic walking, strolling, tai-chi, hiking trips in the mountains Exercise should be suited to patients’ ability, performance and stamina. Martial arts, team games and swimming (in the case of incontinence) are contraindicated.


You need to stop an activity and consult a doctor if the following symptoms occur

 - shortness of breath during exercise

- pain, tightness in the chest

- dizziness

- sudden fainting

- arthralgia.




1.      British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health. Physical activity for older adults (65 + years) Evidence Briefing. BHF National Centre for Physical Activity and Health. 2012.

2.      British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health. Interpreting the UK Physical activity guidelines for older adults (65+). Guidance for those who works with older adults described as actives. BHF National Centre for Physical Activity and Health. 2012.

3.    Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. Canadian physical activity guidelines for older adults-65 years and older. Ottawa (ON): Author;  http://www.csep.ca/CMFiles/Guidelines/CSEP_PAGuidelines_older -adults_en.pdf.

4.      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical guidelines for everyone: guidelines – how much physical activity do older adults need? Atlanta (GA): The Centers, 2011; http://www.cdc.gov/ physical activity/everyone/guidelines/olderadults.html.  

5.      Hamilton MT, Hamilton DG, Zderic TW. Role of low energy expenditure and sitting in obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Diabetes 2007;56(11):2655–67.        

6.      Karen A. Schutzer, B.Sue Graves, Barriers and motivations to exercise in older adults
Preventive Medicine, 2004; 39 (5):1056-1061.

7.      Wan M. Wong RY. Benefits of exercise in the elderly. CGS Journal of CME 2014; 4 (1): 5-8

Developed by:  Alina Deluga, Bogumiła Kosicka