Best Cardio Exercises for Seniors at Home for Any Fitness Level

A compilation of the best cardio exercises for seniors at home - from low to vigorous intensity.
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Last updatedLast updated: October 16, 2022
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The idea of exercising can be quite overwhelming for everyone, especially for older people in society. It can be hard to believe that exercising is even all that important anymore, but that’s not true: keeping fit and having a regular appropriate exercise for 150 mins a week is important for adults of all ages!

Nobody is expecting seniors to go to the gym or lift weights, especially these days. Luckily, there are plenty of cardio exercises for seniors at home! Leaving the house regularly can be hard enough due to outward issues like bad weather or personal problems due to poor mobility or bad health.

However, despite the difficulty, it’s extremely important that everyone gets exercise to stay healthy on a day-to-day basis. Luckily, as you’ll see below, there are plenty of physical activities you can do without ever leaving the house!

What is a Cardio Exercise?

Cardiovascular or cardio exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, is the kind of movement and physical activity which gets your heart pumping. When you perform cardio activities, your heart rate increases, your breathing speeds up, and your pulse gets faster. Cardio activities are important for improving your breathing, heart rate, and circulatory system—in short, it is important for your entire cardiovascular system.

Setting Up Cardio Workouts

There’s no need to worry about setting up to exercise, even if you have little idea how to go about it!

Choose an Activity

The activity you choose doesn’t have to be something particularly strenuous, especially at first. In fact, there are plenty of daily activities that will help you get moving without even realizing it! This can be anything from housework to walking to swimming and more.

Choose How Long to Exercise

Seniors should do at least somewhere between 75 and 150 minutes of physical activity every week depending on their lifestyle. When you’re getting started, you can go a little less with the intention of building up over time. You can also make up some of the time by sitting and lying down less often, as even standing up more helps!

Choose Your Intensity

There are three main intensities of exercise:

  • Low: Any sort of moving around that stops you from simply sitting or lying down.
  • Moderate or Medium: Exercise which starts to get your heart rate and breathing rate up while still feeling able to talk along with others.
  • Vigorous or Intense: Exercise that will make your heart and breathing very fast. You’ll usually feel very warm or hot and unable to talk.

Choose How Often You Exercise

All adults should make sure to get some level of physical activity every day. It’s up to you to try to organize your time and focus on exercise around your own life. If you can’t do a dedicated workout every day, then it’s ok to rebalance some things to ensure you still get your weekly amount. Just make sure you do some light movement on the non-exercise days!

Types of Cardio Exercises for Seniors

While of course there are plenty of different sports that seniors can get involved in, choosing one can be hard. We’ve included some of the most common and useful day-to-day options below.


Best Cardio Exercises for Seniors at Home for Any Fitness Level

Don’t underestimate the power of walking! Just your average daily walk to the store counts as light physical activity, while more intense walking for help is moderate level. Brisk walking is a great way to get your heart pumping and can be done alone or in a group around the block. If you have a treadmill or an elliptical machine like the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7603, you can even do it indoors.

Hiking, jogging, and running are all forms of walking that cross over into vigorous activity, which might be great for older people looking for more of a cardio challenge. Hiking especially can help with balance.

Within your house, if you have a staircase, you can perform walking stair exercises that will also give great physical benefits.


Best Cardio Exercises for Seniors at Home for Any Fitness Level

Riding a bike is one of the best things you can do for your cardio health at any age. Not only is it good for your heart and circulatory system, but it also helps you increase your balance and maintain mental acuity! While it might be hard to go out on a bike for many older adults, there are plenty of alternative options available. Some of the best pedal exercisers for seniors are a great long-term investment for ‘cycling’ in the comfort of your own home. You can even pedal while you watch tv or listen to music!

For those who still work or otherwise spend a lot of time at a desk, products like the YOSUDA Under Desk Bike Pedal Exerciser make it much easier to still get in your regularly required physical activity without compromising what needs to be done.


Best Cardio Exercises for Seniors at Home for Any Fitness Level

Dancing is fun—but more than that, it’s an amazing way to get some cardio exercise! Few people realize how much physical effort dancing requires, and the benefits are endless. Dancing is also very customizable to your fitness level and preferences. You can dance alone or with others. There are three main types of dancing exercises:

  • Regular dancing – dancing alone or with some company to music you like and enjoy
  • Structured dancing – dancing to particular pre-ordained steps, such as square dances or Irish dances
  • Exercise-oriented dancing – dancing specifically designed as an exercise program, including Zumba, Jazzercise, and Tumbao.

Dance exercise classes can be found at most gyms, but these programs are also available from the comfort of your own home through videos and online lessons.


Best Cardio Exercises for Seniors at Home for Any Fitness Level

Pushing a lawnmower, pulling weeds, turning soil, lifting heavy plant pots, and more—gardening might not be a traditional exercise in most people’s minds, but it sure is a lot of physical activity! Gardening is also great for the mental health of older people. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as planting flowers and watching them grow fit and healthy—just like you!


Best Cardio Exercises for Seniors at Home for Any Fitness Level

Swimming is an amazing full-body exercise for everyone, and many older people can benefit greatly from sports and movement in the water. You can go swimming alone, or as a group, or take part in a class. There are also specific water aerobics classes that might be extremely helpful for someone looking to get serious about their fitness!

Benefits of Cardio Exercises

Cardio and aerobic exercises are important for everyone, but they’re especially essential for older people due to the age-increased risk of heart problems and stroke. Cardio activities can help mitigate a lot of the risks when performed regularly at moderate levels, and also carry a lot of other benefits.

1.    Boosts cardiovascular health

Your cardiovascular system involves anything to do with your heart or your blood vessels. Keeping your heart and the rest of this system healthy is important throughout your life, but especially for older adults, who are at higher risks for cardiovascular diseases. These diseases include heart disease and failure or arrhythmia, heart valve issues, and strokes.

Regular exercise isn’t a cure-all, but making sure you have regular cardio exercise helps cut the risk of these illnesses and conditions by up to 70%.

2.    Lowers blood pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) is extremely strenuous on the heart and, if left untreated, can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems and sudden fatal cardiac events. It can also be related to cholesterol problems. Your blood pressure changes throughout the day but should always remain under 120 systolic and 90 diastolic (120/80).

Elevated blood pressure (prehypertension/at risk) and High blood pressure (hypertension) are both dangerous and must be controlled. Medication is available, but diet and exercise are some of the best ways to keep them under control.

3.    Enhances sleep

Sleep is essential for health, and it’s one of the things that most often gets overlooked. Older adults are even less likely than other adults to have enough sleep or sleep of a good enough quality. Exercise is a great way to help maximize the amount of high-quality sleep you get, as well as encourage regular sleeping hours.

Exercising releases endorphins, so exercising throughout the day will give you a boost of wakefulness while tiring you out for later deep sleep. Performing physical activities a few hours before bed are generally considered best, but it varies from person to person.

The most amazing thing, though, is that the benefits of exercise on sleep are almost instant! Thirty minutes of moderate cardio exercises during the day can show a benefit that exact same night. Choosing an activity you enjoy will help keep people on track and sleeping more soundly, too.

4.    Lowers the effects of asthma and its symptoms

Cardio helps to improve your lung health and help mitigate the symptoms of asthma, but it’s very important to make sure that you don’t overdo it and that you choose the right exercises. Regular cardio activity helps improve your endurance, lung capacity, muscles, and general cardiovascular fitness, and also improves your airway endurance.

Some great examples of exercise that are good for those with asthma or asthmatic symptoms include low-intensity walking and cycling, gentle hiking, short-distance running like sprints (but generally not long-distance), and other sports with short bursts of activity.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, cardio exercise is extremely important for everyone, and older adults are no exception. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that regular exercise makes for a healthier, happier, and longer life! No matter what your fitness level or experience, it’s never too late to get started and there’s always a way to the best exercises!

Exercising doesn’t need to be scary. Even without thinking about it too hard, you might find that you’re incorporating more physical activity into your life without even realizing it!

The cardio exercises for seniors at home mentioned in this article are by no means an exhaustive list, and you should be ready to try out as many different activities as you can to find the ideal activities for you! Whether you’re walking around or gardening or taking part in higher-level physical activities such as cycling, any kind of exercise is a great way to get you healthy and happy.

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