How to do: Exercises at home for older adults

By Ben Leber, Manager of Physical Activity

First, please consult with your physician before beginning if you have any concerns about your safety while doing physical activity. If you have any doubt, please complete a PAR-Q here and follow the appropriate recommendations.

When it comes to living independently, you have to be strong and able. As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass and muscle strength. This makes daily tasks more difficult to do. If you are unable to perform routine tasks like getting up from your chair, then living on your own is nearly impossible. Luckily, we have exercise! Exercise helps keep our muscles and bones strong and ready to perform our daily living activities. In this program, I have included exercises that are functional and specific at helping older adults stay strong and stay at home. The exercises may be done each day to help build the strength. Start with one set of 10 repetitions for each exercise and build from there. Once completing one round is easy, move to two rounds and so on. Another way to progress is to do more repetitions each round ie 15 reps rather than 10. There are a lot of ways to progress and progression is key for adaptation and for changes to be made.


Sit to stand

Just as it sounds, you start seated in chair and without using your hands, stand up tall.

To increase the difficulty, start with your feet further from the chair. Complete the

movement by returning to the chair slowly and controlled.


Wall push up

Facing the wall, put your hands out so they reach the wall around shoulder level.

Keeping your body perfectly straight, bring your body closer to the wall as your

elbows bend. Pause at the bottom before pushing back up. To make this exercise

for difficult, consider moving your feet back from the wall or to use a counter top

instead. To work your triceps more, bring your hands closer to each other and

perform the same movement.




Just as it sounds, go up and down the stairs! Focus on putting your full foot on the stair so you are able to push up through your heel rather than your toes.


Wall plank


Same position as the wall pushup but now bring your forearms to the wall. Hold that position for 30 seconds. Make this exercise more challenging by raising an arm or a leg to change your base of support. Consider the floor or a counter top to also make the exercise more difficult.


Leg extensions


From a seated position on a chair, kick your leg up as you squeeze the muscles in

the thigh. Slowly release the leg back down. Consider investing in ankle weights

to make the exercise more of a challenge!


​Bicep curl to shoulder press


For this exercise, grab a small weight like a small dumbbell or a big can of soup.

Standing nice and tall, hold the weight so that your palm is facing forward,

hands by your side. Bring your hand up to your shoulder by bending your elbow.

Rotate your hands so the palm now faces forward again. Push the weight

straight up. Reverse this movement back to the starting position.


Standing side leg lifts


Side leg lifts work both sides of the hip at the same time. The leg on the ground has to stay

strong and support your body while the leg that is moving activates those important hip

muscles to get them stronger! Try it with a chair or wall in front of you for support. Keep

your moving leg’s toes pointed slightly inward and do not move your trunk. It is not about

the amplitude of the movement but rather the isolation of key muscles. You want to feel

it in the side of your hip.


Standing leg curl


Standing behind a chair using the back rest as support, stay nice and tall and straight

and bend your kneed bringing your heel towards your hip. Pause for a moment and

then return the leg slowly to the starting position. Similar to the leg extensions,

consider ankle weights to make the movement more difficult!


Tandem stance

The picture on the right shows the tandem stance. It is standing with your toes to

the heel of the foot in front of you. Try both sides, each foot should have a chance

to be in front and in the back. Standing nice and upright, tall, looking forward, try to

hold that position. To make it harder, hold it for longer time or try it with your eyes

closed. Your vision is VERY important to balance so close your eyes to challenge

your body to adapt!


Tandem walk


The same as the tandem stance except you will walk with your heel to toe. Once again, try to remain tall and straight, looking ahead of you, and staying in a straight line. Challenge yourself with uneven surfaces or once again, with your eyes closed.

There you have it, 10 exercises to try at home to improve your strength!

If you have any questions at all, never hesitate to ask Ben via email,

or phone 613-828-8586

Good luck, have fun and stay strong!

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