Improper Exercising for Elderly People

Improper exercising for elderly people can create more problems than benefits.

Blog posts on this site, along with information on other websites, promote the benefits of activity and exercise for seniors. However, there are risks of improper exercising for elderly people that create problems that outweigh the benefits.

Sometimes getting elderly parents or friends to exercise and take part in activities can be a challenge. But when you convince her to do so, the urge is there to jump right into it without proper preparation.

What are the risks of improper exercising for elderly people?

Over-exercising can lead to heart attacks, strokes, lower leg cramping, disorientation (light-headiness), and osteoporosis/bone loss in women. It can also cause chronic tendinitis or stress fracture, and increased incidence of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI). Over-exercising can also lead to insomnia, mood swings, and weight gain.

How do you know when an elderly parent or friend is over-exercising?

Symptoms for over-doing exercising include shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, muscle soreness over several days, and lack of motivation.

What are the best ways to avoid issues created from over-exercising?

First, get a physician’s evaluation to determine any underlying physical conditions or other issues. A physician can provide recommendations on the exercises best-suited for the elderly person, along with duration.

Second, the elderly person should not be completing exercises alone. If an adult child or friend of the elderly person can not be present, enroll her into a community-based exercise program offered by the YMCA, local senior center, or similar organization. The senior may not realize that the exercise is too strenuous, so having someone to observe is critical.

It is important to start an exercise program slowly and gradually work up to more time. Rather than 30 minutes of ongoing exercising, begin with 5-minute increments and work up to what feels comfortable. Also, a blend of aerobics, such as walking and swimming; weight training; and stretching to improve balance and flexibility can be beneficial.

What exercises are unsuitable for elderly people?

There are exercises that may be problematic for seniors because they can over-stress muscles, bones, and tendons. Some of these include bench and leg presses, squats with weights, sit-ups and crunches, long-distance running, stair climbing, and high-intensity training.


There are many benefits from starting and maintaining an exercise program. These include strength, balance, and sleep improvement; disease, depression, and bone fracture prevention; energy enhancement; and cognitive maintenance. The CDC recommends that people over 65 should have 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activities weekly or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activities for those who can handle it.

Check out this interesting online article from Forbes Health that provides recommendations on the best exercises for seniors. Click here. This article from SilverSneakers discusses the seven worst exercises for older people. Click here.

You can also learn more about why elderly people become sedentary, why it is an issue, how to persuade them to exercise and take part in activities, and what activities/exercises are best by clicking here.

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