Exercises Seniors Should Avoid

Maintaining an exercise regimen into one’s golden years is the best way to sustain one’s physical health. However, as you age, certain exercise practices may no longer be suited to your health. Whether this is due to balance, a new injury, joint pain, or any other health concern, it’s important to know the exercises seniors should avoid and why they should be avoided.

If you have been safely practicing these exercises for years, it doesn’t mean you have to give it up unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. Seniors who have been thinking about incorporating these exercises into their regimens, however, should think twice before doing so.

Exercises Seniors Should Avoid

Leg press

Many may think the primary issue that comes from leg presses would be the excessive pressure it puts on one’s knees and leg muscles. While this is certainly a concern, especially for those with osteoporosis or arthritis, there is another issue leg press machines can lead to: back problems.

In a leg press position, most do not keep their back in the arched position which helps them avoid injury. Instead, as they bend their legs, their back flattens to the padded bench, then straightens as they straighten their legs. This can lead to damage to one’s spinal disks.


Doing deadlifts improperly is a problem for individuals of all ages, but it can be especially dangerous for seniors. To practice this full-body exercise, you must have the exact right posture to lift a heavy weight off the floor. Many seniors, however, have back issues that impact their posture, which can cause significant damage to the back, shoulder, and arm muscles.

In addition to resulting in serious back and arm injuries, deadlifting can also pose a serious risk of falls. Seniors must balance themselves and their weight correctly, as a slip in this position is particularly dangerous.

Deep or weighted squats

While squats are great for building strength in leg muscles, they become risky for seniors who struggle with their balance. Modifications, such as the chair squat, are a great option for seniors, but in general, seniors should stay away from deep or weighted squats.

Deep squats strain the knee joints and are difficult to maintain if one has back or leg problems. Weighted squats make sustaining them even more difficult, as they can offset one’s already precarious balance.

Exercise safely as a senior


Running is an example of free, impactful physical activity people always give, but it may not be the best option for seniors. Due to the speed at which they’re moving, each step you take has a force of three to four times their body weight. For inexperienced runners, this can lead to knee and leg problems.

Running also puts undue stress on the cardiovascular system—especially for those with a risk of heart disease or attack. For those with heart health concerns, it may be better to walk briskly instead of running.

Standing toe touches

Toe touches are a great form of exercise for building one’s flexibility, but standing toe touches bring a new challenge. Some seniors are more prone to dizzy spells, and bending over makes that far more likely, which then leads to a higher risk of falls. Not to mention, this exercise puts more strain on one’s spine.

Instead of standing toe touches, practice toe touches sitting, whether that is from the chair or the ground. Choose your option based on your current balance or flexibility.

Stay safe and healthy with the help of an at-home caregiver

As you explore your fitness journey with types of exercise suggested by your doctor, you may need some help around the home to stay as healthy as possible. Activities of daily living, such as remembering to take one’s medication, preparing meals, and running errands may seem daunting to you. You don’t have to let them overwhelm you. Instead, hire the help of an at-home caregiver.

Home Care Powered by AUAF has been one of the leading providers of home care in the Chicago area for 30 years. We have helped thousands of seniors live their best lives, and we’d be happy to assist you too. For more information on our services, call us at 773-274-9262.

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