A Total Fitness Plan For Seniors: How To Design Your Own

Attempting to piece together an effective personal fitness program might seem to be an overwhelming task. By approaching the task first, from the necessary components of fitness that must be included and, second, deciding what activities you enjoy, we can construct a complete program that is individually tailored to your needs and likes. It’s very possible that you’ll need to include more than one activity if you’d like to be sure of addressing the important aspects of fitness listed below.
You may be wondering at this moment about your current state of physical fitness. It doesn’t matter. The needs are the same for all of us, and every exercise can easily be adapted to any skill level. So let’s design the program first and then discuss how to tailor it to your fitness level, no matter what that might be. If you approach this activity as a means of personal growth and discovery, the journey just might become an enjoyable and fulfilling lifetime pursuit.

Let’s get started!

The Basic Foundation: The Critical Components

1. Adequate Physical Strength To Handle Your Own Body Weight

2. Aerobic Capacity.

3. Flexibility and Range of Motion

4. Balance and Coordination

Because all forms of exercise are going to address these needs to some degree, our plan needs to make sure that each component receives sufficient focus to improve.

Senior Exercises?

I do the same exercises today that I’ve been doing for fifty years. The only change that aging brings regarding exercise is what I’m going to call ‘accommodation’… because of the body’s accumulated pains from injury, deterioration, or disease, the exercises must be done with a different pace and within the range of motion limitations imposed by pain resulting from the issues mentioned above.

Here are the basics you need to consider to construct your own complete program. It’s not difficult. High on the list is deciding what’s going to be fun for you, so that you look forward to enjoying the activity for itself.

Groups Are Great!

As much as I’ve always enjoyed the ability to simply workout by myself whenever I wanted, either at home, at the gym, or simply a run in the park; most people are going to have a lot more fun participating in a group activity. So what should it be?

Here’s how I survey the fitness landscape…

Since cardio is critical, your activity needs to get your heart pumping in the appropriate range for twenty minutes or more.

Since Osteoporosis should be a major consideration for every Senior, there must be some strength challenging movements (and, therefore, bone challenging) for the entire body; especially legs and hips. This is because mobility becomes increasingly more important and difficult as we age, and because hips are the usual point of impact in falling.

Since balance and coordination are important, movements involving changing your center of gravity are necessary.


Yoga, Tai Chi, Aerobics, Zumba, Swimming, Hiking, Running, and the list goes on… They all incorporate the important components of fitness to varying degrees.

If, however, I could offer only one addition to all of the above:

None of these can strengthen the bones as well as weight training.

Whatever activity you enjoy, I’d love to see you in the gym three times a week to compliment what may be missing.

To Total Workouts,


The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Categories: Fitness, Weight Lifting

2 replies

  1. I think the physical abilities of seniors are greatly underestimated. There has been an explosion of exercise programs developed for seniors that encourage hyper-cautiosness and multiple modifications, yet claim to result in significant health benefits, such as an increase in bone density, flexibility, and muscle strength. The elephant in the room is that no research has been done showing that watered-down programs like these provide the results their marketing suggests. Sure, we should all be safe, not sorry, but we’re not china dolls. I myself am a 70-year-old woman who was diagnosed 13 years ago with osteoporosis. I have had no fractures. I wonder sometimes if my 0-fracture record would be different if I had participated in these “safe, bone-building” programs, rather than in good, old-fashioned working out at my local Y. I do Body Pump 3 times a week, yoga twice a week, and jog on the treadmill 3 times a week. My only modification at this point is that I don’t lift a barbell weighing more than 20 pounds!

    • You’re exactly correct, Anita. Many of the ‘watered down’ programs may not do all that we need, but something is always better than nothing. Osteoporosis is like blood pressure problems, in that you have no idea that it’s taking place. In recent years we’ve learned that simply being active goes a long way in reducing many problems associated with aging. And when it comes to being active, you, Anita, are off the charts!
      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

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