Top 5 Exercises to Improve Older Adults Mobility

A female medical professional caregiver assisting an older adult man as he completes his exercise routine

As we age, maintaining mobility is crucial for overall health and independence. Regular exercise can help improve balance, flexibility, strength, and endurance.

This quick guide is designed specifically for older adults and seniors who are looking to maintain and improve their mobility with simple and effective exercises that can be done in the comfort of your own home.

*Please note that before starting any exercise program, it's essential to consult with your healthcare provider to ensure that you're doing exercises that are appropriate for your individual needs and abilities.

Additionally, it's crucial not to push yourself too hard or beyond your limits, and it's always better to have a partner or caregiver present during exercises, especially if you have mobility challenges or are at risk of falling. Remember to listen to your body and make modifications as needed to avoid discomfort or pain. Always exercise caution and prioritize safety to ensure that you get the most benefit from your exercise routine without risking injury.

Warm-up and Safety Tips

Before beginning any exercise routine, it is essential to warm up and follow safety guidelines. Consider the following tips:

  • Consult your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise program.
  • Begin with a gentle warm-up, such as walking in place or performing arm circles.
  • Make sure to wear comfortable, non-slip shoes and exercise on a flat, stable surface.
  • Keep water nearby and stay hydrated.

Exercise 1: Sit-to-Stand

This exercise helps strengthen the lower body and improve balance.

  • Sit on a sturdy chair with a straight back.
  • Keep your feet flat on the ground, shoulder-width apart.
  • Slowly stand up, using your legs and core muscles, and avoid using your hands for support.
  • Sit back down slowly and with control.
  • Repeat 10-12 times for 1-3 sets.

Exercise 2: Marching in Place

Marching in place helps improve balance and cardiovascular endurance.

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  • March in place by lifting one knee up towards your chest, then lowering it back down.
  • Alternate legs and continue for 1-2 minutes.
  • Repeat for 3-5 sets.

Exercise 3: Wall Push-ups

Wall push-ups are an excellent upper body strengthening exercise.

  • Stand facing a wall, approximately two feet away.
  • Place your hands on the wall at shoulder height and shoulder-width apart.
  • Slowly bend your elbows and lean your body toward the wall.
  • Push back to the starting position using your arms and chest.
  • Repeat 10-12 times for 1-3 sets.

Exercise 4: Ankle Pumps

Ankle pumps improve flexibility and circulation in the lower legs.

  • Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Slowly lift your heels, keeping your toes on the floor.
  • Lower your heels back down and lift your toes off the floor.
  • Repeat 10-15 times for 1-3 sets.

Exercise 5: Seated Leg Lifts

Seated leg lifts strengthen the thigh muscles and improve balance.

  • Sit on a sturdy chair with a straight back.
  • Extend one leg straight out in front of you, keeping the other foot flat on the ground.
  • Slowly lift your extended leg, keeping your knee straight.
  • Lower your leg back down with control.
  • Repeat 10-12 times for each leg, for 1-3 sets.

Cool Down and Stretching

After exercising, cool down with gentle movements like walking in place or performing arm circles. Stretch major muscle groups to help maintain flexibility.

Tips for Staying Motivated

  • Find an exercise buddy: Connect with a friend, neighbour, or family member to exercise together. This can help make the activity more enjoyable and provide accountability.
  • Play music: Listen to your favourite tunes while exercising to boost your mood and energy levels. You can also try moving to the rhythm of the music for an added challenge.
  • Celebrate small victories: Acknowledge your progress, no matter how small. Celebrating your achievements will help keep you motivated and remind you of the benefits of regular exercise.
  • Focus on enjoyment: Choose exercises and activities that you genuinely enjoy. When exercise is enjoyable, you're more likely to stay committed to your routine.  
  • Remember that staying motivated is an ongoing process. Keep trying new strategies and activities to find what works best for you, and always listen to your body to ensure you're exercising safely and effectively.   

For further information, guidance, and support on senior exercises and maintaining mobility, consider exploring the following resources:

Active Aging Canada –

Active Aging Canada strives to promote a society where all adult and older adult Canadians are leading active lifestyles that contribute to their overall well-being.