Top 5 Best Functional Exercises for Senior Citizens

As we age, it is common for daily activities and tasks to become more challenging. This can often be due to loss of power and strength in our muscles, and can result in unwanted falls or difficulty caring for oneself.

Fortunately, there is a way to prevent or reverse this – through exercise! Exercise can help delay muscle loss and maintain endurance – both of which can help reduce risk of injury, increase ease of activities, and even help with joint pain.

“But what if Mom (or Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, etc.) doesn’t like to exercise?” I understand, not many people willingly choose to exercise daily due to pain, time constraints, or several other factors!

As a Physical Therapist, I have found that if I can explain how each exercise can positively impact an individual functionally throughout their day-to-day activities, they may be more willing to stick to a routine.

Below is a list of my Top 5 best functional exercises for senior citizens to perform daily. Each exercise will have an explanation of how it will positively improve their day to day, and step by step instructions in how to carry them out. Having a supportive family member who encourages these exercise routines and can keep someone accountable can make a world of difference!

Performing these 5 exercises 1-2 times daily does not take a significant amount of time, but CAN make a significant difference in an elderly loved one’s strength and endurance.

  1. Bridges – The bridge exercise is a great exercise for strengthening your core muscles. This is important for several activities throughout the day, including getting in and out of bed, and rising from a chair.
    1. Lie on your back with your hands at your sides, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor under your knees.
    2. Tighten your abdominal and buttock muscles by pushing your low back into the ground before you push up.
    3. Raise your hips to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders.
    4. Squeeze your core and pull your belly button back toward your spine.
    5. Hold for a few seconds, and then return to your starting position.
    6. Complete at least 10 reps.


  1. Single Leg Raises (SLR) – Working on strengthening your hip and abdominal muscles, this exercise also improves your ability to get in and out of bed and rise from a chair.
    1. While lying on your back, raise your leg with a straight knee. Keep the opposite knee bent with the foot planted on the ground.
    2. Complete at least 10 reps, on each leg.

  1. Sit to Stands – This exercise works the entire body; leg and hip muscles, core, and some muscles in your upper body too. Working on this exercise can improve your ability to rise from various seats/surfaces and picking objects up off the floor.
    1. Sit in a chair, preferably one with armrests.
    2. Scoot forward towards the edge of the chair.
    3. Hold on to the arm rest with both hands for support, and then raise up to standing.
    4. Repeat 5-10 times.
    5. If this exercise feels too easy, you can challenge yourself by starting on a lower seat height, or one without armrests.


  1. Standing Marching – This exercise works on strengthening muscles in your hips. This is important for activities such as going up and down stairs, getting legs into a vehicle, and making sure your foot will get high enough to clear any obstacles you may encounter when walking. When repeated for a length of time, it is also a great low impact cardio move to increase your heart rate without the strain on your joints.
    1. While standing, draw up your knee, set it down, and then alternate to the other side.
    2. Use your arms for support if needed for balance and safety.
    3. Repeat for a total of 10 repetitions on each leg.


  1. Rows with a Resistance Band – This exercise works the muscles of the back, as well as the forearms. It is an important exercise to help keep proper posture in sitting and standing, an important component of preventing neck and back pain! It is very functional, as many times during the day you pull items toward your chest.
    1. Attach an elastic band securely in a shut door, or other location.
    2. Holding elastic band with both hands, draw back the band as you bend your elbows. Keep your elbows near the side of your body.
    3. Hold for a few seconds, and then return to your starting position.
    4. Repeat for a total of 10 repetitions. 




Golden Comfort is a seasonal subscription box service for senior citizens and their families. We help provide comfort, care, and connection for elderly parents, grandparents, or other elderly loved ones and their families. Our mission is to provide your senior citizen with an extra feeling of love and connection to their family, especially during hard times or when you are not able to visit them in person as often as you'd like to. Send support to your senior citizen with a subscription gift box today! 

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