As we get older our bodies need a little guidance to maintain the mobility, strength and energy that provides us with the quality of life we desire. The majority of us wish to experience our day to day activities free of pain, to be able to enjoy our occasional exertions such as dancing, hiking or cycling and be left feeling exhilarated rather than drained.

As we move into our later years, exercise helps us not only maintain but also improve those things we need to get through our day: balance, coordination, building strength, and cardiovascular health.

With exercise we can enhance our blood and lymphatic circulation, greatly improving our ability to fight infection. This is very important should we ever need to undergo surgery or other medical procedures.

If you are new to exercise please consult a physician for clearance. If possible hire a fitness professional to check your technique and help you with pacing; you will achieve faster progress, with confidence and peace of mind.

Here are some exercises that can be done at home without equipment. This is a good place to begin building a foundation for your active future. You can try this series of exercises once. If you get through them with relative ease then try completing the series a second time.

Doing these exercises one after the other creates a circuit. Doing this circuit more than once, with a short rest between exercises, will give you a good cardiovascular workout.

As your fitness improves you can add another circuit eventually building up to 4 or 5 in total.

Warm up: A brisk five to ten minute walk would be ideal. If you need to stay indoors, five to ten minutes of dancing is a wonderful way to warm up!

Okay, let’s try some exercises.

Stand Ups (Squats): 5-15 repetitions (reps). Works: Thighs, Glutes, Lower Back, Ankles and Balance.

Sit down on a chair that is about knee height, feet a foot apart, stand up straight and sit back down. Keep most of your weight on your heels. If this is easy you can do it without the chair. If you find it hard, you can put your hands on your knees to help push yourself up. A thick cushion or higher chair will also make it easier.

Try not to rush. Lean forward, feel the solid contact of the soles of your feet on the floor, then stand up into a full and proud posture. Control your speed, and be aware of your balance, as you reverse this movement and sit down.

Leg raises: 5-15 repetitions. Hips, Glutes, Lower Back, Abs, Ankles and Balance.

Standing, both knees very slightly bent. Lift a leg up in front of you, hold for one second then lower back down. Now lift the same leg to the side and back down, then lift to the rear and back down. That’s one repetition.

Control your speed. This is a lift, not a kick.

You may hold onto a stable surface to help your balance. If you can do this without holding on, your balance and coordination are doing very well.

Pushups: 10-20 repetitions. Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Core.

Beginners stand in front of a wall, arms straight in front of you, hands on the wall a few inches wider and lower than your shoulders. Now bend your elbows until your nose almost touches the wall and push back to standing position.

If this is easy for you (15 reps) try doing them on the floor on your knees. Lower your body until your elbows are at 90 degrees and push backup. If this is still easy then go ahead and try the full push-up on your toes. Keep the entire body, legs through torso, in a straight line. Do not let your hips sag towards the floor.

Getting Out Of Bed!: 5-10 repetitions. Midsection (Abdominals/Core), Thighs, Glutes, Lower Back, Coordination, Balance.

This exercise is exactly as it sounds.

Lie in bed and turn to your side and sit up, putting your feet on the floor then stand up straight. Now do the reverse and lie back down. Be sure to bring your feet completely back onto the bed.

After completing 5 to 10 repetitions repeat this exercise on the other side of the bed.

How much time should you take between these sessions?

  • If you do the circuit only once, you can use it as a daily booster.
  • If you do the circuit multiple times in a row pushing your fitness, then a gap of two or three days will allow for full recovery.

On these other days you might enjoy a yoga class or a brisk walk. There are many other ways to incorporate new fitness into your daily life. These don’t have to take much time. A little bit done consistently goes a long way.

I think you will be pleasantly surprised by how quickly improvements are made.

About the Author

Conor McDermott is a Health and Fitness Coach with more than 20 years experience. He is currently servicing the Toronto area and can be contacted at

Photo credit: Edmund Vanzyl