Health & Medical

10 Exercises That Seniors Should Avoid (Try These Instead)

Exercises Seniors Should Avoid

Seniors should continue to exercise to maintain a standard of physical health and prolong their quality of life. However, the regime will need to change with age to account for changes in bone and muscle health. In this article, you will learn about ten exercises seniors should avoid at all costs.

Senior Fitness 101: Program Health Benefits

Although eliminating these exercises may slightly limit how effectively you maintain your health, the good news is there are many suitable alternatives that will put less of a strain on any vulnerable muscles and bones, as well as your heart and lungs. 

Deadlifts Add Stress to the Lower Back

The deadlift is the first exercise that seniors should avoid; this maneuver involves a dynamic movement under the resistance of weight. It is an exercise that engages many muscles of both the upper and lower body but is particularly hazardous for seniors because it requires the participant to have a good balance. 

Luckily, there are safe alternatives that target the same muscles. Any alternative to a deadlift should involve the participant performing a similar range of motion without having to balance weights.

Senior Kettlebell Swing

Alternative: Kettlebell Swing or Hex Bar

A less arduous and physically hazardous alternative to the deadlift is the kettlebell swing. The kettlebell is a piece of equipment that can be used to gain core strength, increasing endurance, and enhancing balance.

The kettlebell deadlift is easier to learn than with the barbell. Start with your feet set shoulder-width apart. Keep your chest up and your back straight—maintaining proper form is critical. Then bend at the hip and at the knees slightly to grab the kettlebell off the ground. 

Finish the move by keeping your heels flat to the ground while driving the hips to a standing position. You can see illustrations describing how to perform this exercise on this site

Seniors will also find the hex bar (also called a trap bar) to be a suitable alternative to the standard barbell deadlift. The trap bar puts much less stress on the lower back, which is one of the primary concerns about deadlifts.

Weighted Squats Makes Balancing Harder

Squatting is an exercise that targets a wide range of muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes, and abdominal muscles. 

This type of exercise requires both strength and balance. It would not be advisable for someone with an unsteady balance to try supporting weights on their shoulders, as is the case with weighted squats.


Alternative: Chair Squats

While weighted squats should be avoided, seniors are encouraged to maintain a healthy balance with a few easy squats using equipment that can be found around the home. Chair squats are recommended for seniors by Edward-Elmhurst Health. For this exercise, you will need a strong, sturdy chair and either a free weight or kettlebell.

You are also welcome to perform the exercise without any weights; in fact, it would be best not to use them the first time you try this so that you do not develop bad form. Doing this in front of a mirror can help you monitor your positioning if you do not have an exercise partner or trainer.

To perform chair squats:

  1. Hold the weight in your hand.
  2. Sit in the chair.
  3. Place your feet shoulder-width apart, staying seated.
  4. Make sure that your heels are approximately 4 inches away from the legs of the chair
  5. Once you have sat back, you will use your hips to stand up. (Most of the stress should be placed on your heels.)
  6. Do not sit fully in your chair again during the exercise; you will spring back up as soon as your backside hits the seat.
  7. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions.

HIIT is Challenging with Weakened Heart & Lungs

Seniors should be emphasizing exercises that meet the target heart range responsibly. “High intensity” is a bit of a subjective term. In this case, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) would involve any kind of activity that purposely keeps the rest time brief after a period of rapid motion.

This would be an exercise that requires an individual to have a healthy heart and lungs. For this reason, high-intensity interval training needs to be adjusted so that the target heart rate considers the participant’s age range.

Alternative: Adjust HIIT to Fit Target Heart Rate

It is simple to adjust your training to your target heart rate. To calculate it, subtract your age from the number 220. If you are generally healthy, then you can aim to reach this heart rate for brief periods. 

You are strongly encouraged to utilize a heart rate monitor if you choose to practice HIIT. There exist simple fingertip heart rate monitors like the Metene Pulse Oximeter. It would also be advisable for seniors to have a workout partner or trainer if they are going to perform exercises that follow a high-intensity interval training routine.

Power Yoga Can Be Hazardous

There are many different types of yoga with varying degrees of physical activity. Some types of yoga, such as restorative yoga, consist mostly of relaxation exercises. The most physically arduous types of yoga should be avoided by seniors, especially women who have osteoporosis.

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