senior man in wheelchair enjoying listening to music as he looks at his smartphone
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Exercise in Your Eighties? You Betcha!

In 2015, six men in their eighties swam across the Catalina Channel which separates Catalina Island from San Pedro, California. In doing so, they became the oldest swimmers to complete that twenty-seven mile swim.

Obviously those six octogenarians were in excellent physical condition. You mom or dad might not be ready for a channel swim, but it is never too late to start up a good exercise regime. Even seniors in their eighties and nineties benefit greatly from exercise. And almost no one is too frail or out of shape to start exercising again.

Start out slow

You know that phrase “no pain, no gain”? It should be outlawed. When it comes to seniors and exercise, quitting before you’re in pain is definitely the ticket. Pushing too hard results in pulled muscles and other injuries that can really make it difficult for seniors to go about tasks of daily living.

People who are very out of shape need to start out really slow and build up to moderate workouts. Many physical therapists will recommend exercises that can be done in bed or in a chair for seniors who have lost a lot of body strength.

Chair exercises

There are many exercises that can be done while sitting in a chair. If a senior has developed very weak legs, just marching in place while sitting down can be good therapy. Marching in place involves raising one knee so that the foot comes off the floor, then putting that foot down and raising the other knee in a mirror fashion. The idea is to strengthen legs without risking a fall.

Chair yoga involves doing some yoga moves while sitting down. Yoga practitioners raise and lower arms, move legs in several ways, and use the chair as a support for stretches.

For seniors who are very debilitated, it’s a good idea to provide a blanket and possibly some yoga blocks to allow resting of limbs in different positions. Some seniors may need to be secured to their chairs with a band or belt to prevent falling off. Senior care professionals can help your mother or father do chair exercises safely. These senior care aides will observe signs of fatigue and encourage your parent to take a break when one is needed.

Water Aerobics

Water aerobics, also sometimes called “aqua therapy” by scholars on aging, is a great exercise at any age. However, it’s particularly valuable to older individuals because the risk of falling or injury is substantially reduced. The water acts as a buffer, preventing moves that are too fast. In a water aerobics class, participants work at their own pace, slowly building up strength for more dynamic moves.


Walking improves balance, coordination, and flexibility in everyone who does it. For very old people who have been in the hospital or have been bedridden for some time, walking is a great step-up activity.

If a senior is at risk for a fall, he can deploy a walker or walk with someone, perhaps a senior care professional, who will hold his hand. Even walking down a hallway a few feet is good therapy for someone who is highly debilitated. Walking on a daily basis ensures that one does not become incapacitated.

In conclusion, the six channel swimmers in their eighties show that old age doesn’t have to stop anyone or slow them down much. Getting in shape in one’s eighties or nineties is a matter of starting slow, but anyone can get in shape. Water aerobics and chair exercises are a good start for anyone who wants to build up strength late in life.


If you or an aging loved one is considering senior care in Lone Tree, CO, please contact the caring staff at SYNERGY HomeCare today at 303-953-9924.