7 Ways to Encourage Sedentary Seniors to Get Up and Get Moving!

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®

We all know that sitting is not good for our health or the health of our senior loved ones. Use these tips to get seniors and elderly people out of the recliner and up and moving. Even a little movement helps!

woman encouraging her senior mother to go for a walk

We all know that sitting is not good for our health or the health of our senior loved ones. Use these tips to get seniors and elderly people out of the recliner and up and moving. Even a little movement helps!

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Getting moving is never the easiest thing for any of us, and there are many cases where you just want to get off the feet and relax in your favorite chair or recliner.

While there’s nothing wrong with doing this once in a while, studies have shown again and again that too much sitting can be bad for your health while even small amounts of walking or light exercise through the week can have surprisingly good effects on your health as well as the health of your loved ones.

It often seems impossible to get seniors moving once they are used to sitting. While the sedentary lifestyle can be easier for many seniors, there are many good reasons for figuring out ways to get a little more movement throughout the day.

Exercise means better immune systems, better health, and many seniors report better mood on top of that. Those are three excellent reasons to get up and move around a little bit, and the good news is that there are many great ways to naturally get a little bit more movement and a little less sitting throughout the day.

Take a look at these seven ideas just for starters… because a little moving goes a long way!

Pacing While on the Phone

Why make things more complicated than they have to be? While there are still homes with the old wall phones with long cords, there are also many cordless home phones, and of course most people of all ages use some form of cell phones now. With either of those three models, you can get up and pace around while on the phone. This is a very easy and natural way to get some movement in.

You are distracted because you are talking to someone and you can walk or shuffle around in the well-known and safe confines of your own home. A short call is still 2-5 minutes of walking versus sitting. Long phone calls with family and loved ones could lead to a very solid 20 minutes or more of walking and stretching out the legs while your attention is focused on catching up with those you care about.

In other words, this is a fantastic little habit that can help pick up the amount of movement you go through in a day without even noticing or really changing your daily routine.

senior woman enjoying gardening as a hobby

Garden – or Tend Some Flowers

Aside from not sitting and getting a little extra movement in, studies from many different sources including Harvard have also shown that spending some time outside is good for the health. Especially mental health and well-being, but those boosts can also translate over into having a very strong benefit to physical health as well.

So finding a small but useful or enjoyable hobby that also gets you outside can be a great thing, especially if it becomes an activity that you look forward to doing every day. For some people tending their own garden is a great way to spend the day and get some of those great benefits from being outdoors. The food can then be used for delicious meals, canned for later, sold at a farmer’s market, or donated to churches or other charitable organizations to deliver to the families who need it most.

For some people a little bit of growing is nice, but they aren’t up for the full amount of work that a garden can call for. In this case a couple of basic flower beds can be a great way to get outside and get those same benefits or even caring for a number of house plants.

Raised flower beds are easier to tend for seniors in a wheelchair or with other health issues. While that won’t quite give you the benefits of being outside for a while, it still gets you up and moving which is the most important place to start for sure!

Get Up During Commercials

There’s nothing wrong with getting in a little bit of TV whether it’s your favorite morning show to start the day, mid-day stories, or news at night. Whatever your tastes, why not get up each commercial and pace around a bit or just get some odds and ends done around the house? While it may not seem like much, with 3-5 minute commercial breaks three times every half hour can really add up.

At no point do you get really stressed out because of the low amount of time you’re up and moving keeps things manageable while still adding up over the course of the day. Sitting isn’t nearly as bad for you when taking consistent breaks and this is a really easy way to get in those steps and that little movement without putting a big change in your daily schedule or putting forward a frustrating amount of effort.

senior man and woman walking in the park with safe shoes

Make Walks Enjoyable

While walking for enjoyment can seem a bit counter-intuitive for some people, walking really is a great hobby with a wide array of practical benefits. If you live in town, these walks don’t have to be far. Start with one block. Eventually move to two. Then three. Then find a nearby park. The body tends to adapt very quickly to walking and the major health and mood benefits in the body shouldn’t be ignored.

Out in the country a walk outside can be peaceful, and just walking around the property, looking at birds or small animals, and enjoying the natural beauty of the land around you combines to paint a really outstanding natural picture you can enjoy. A slow walk in the country is a great low impact ways for seniors to reconnect with nature too!

senior woman using her new fitness tracker

Step Trackers Like FitBit

For those senior citizens who want to focus on being more active, a step tracker like a FitBit can be a great way to get started. By measuring how many steps an individual takes in an average day over a couple weeks can set the average numbers to shoot for. A person will have their low step day, high step day, and see the average.

This makes it very easy to make it a game. Start by adding just another 100 steps a day, or focus on taking a 500 step walk each day at a certain time. That amount can be increased week by week. By being able to track every step taken in a day, it becomes very easy to consciously move around a bit more, to make a game of it, and to set goals that you can then accomplish. All good things and all motivations that can help a lot of us to get moving just a little bit more.

Volunteer Opportunities

Why not get out and volunteer? Whether a local library, school, or charity, there are many different opportunities out there to meet people, be active, and do some good in your local area. Many times this will naturally lead to some moving around and natural activity.

This is a great way to boost your physical, mental, and social health, all the while enjoying the experience of being out and doing something good for the local community. See my guide on how to volunteer at a nursing home for more information.

senior women lifting weights in exercise class

Senior Friendly Exercise Programs

When talking about “senior friendly” or “elderly friendly” exercises, it is important to realize that is very much an umbrella term that really encompasses a wide array of different potential activities and exercises. Low impact yoga (like wheelchair yoga), low impact aerobics, stationary exercise bikes, swimming pool-based dance classes, and professionally guided physical fitness programs are just the beginning of the many different options that are there.

There are many different options and many seniors give several different things a try and end up very surprised at what activities they end up enjoying. Try out a few things and see what you end up really looking forward to.

Get Seniors Moving Because Even a Little Moving Goes a Long Way

These seven options are just a few of the many great options out there for seniors looking to get the most out of life by moving from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active one to more fully enjoy each and every days.

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Scott Grant, CSA®, ATP, CRTS®

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Certified Rehab Technology Supplier (CRTS®)

I have been serving seniors and the elderly for over 20 years as a medical equipment and custom wheelchair specialist for a regional medical equipment company. I am also a lucky dad to four awesome daughters and grandfather to three pretty terrific grandkids. When not helping older adult improve the quality of their lives, I enjoy early morning runs and occasional kayak trips. I am also a self-admitted nerd who loves anything from the 1980's. Learn More

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