What is the best exercise for seniors?

If you answered “walking” you wouldn’t be alone. Hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions, of seniors walk regularly as the primary or even only part of their workout routine. Year in and year out surveys of seniors reveal that they (and maybe you) walk more than any other activity.

It’s not difficult to understand why. Walking is easy to do, requires no equipment or gym membership and can be done almost anywhere. Walking is fine but if you answered that it was the best exercise then you would be wrong … very wrong. In fact, I wouldn’t even put it in the top 10.

So what is No. 1 (at least on my list)? Functional Strength Training! Nothing else even comes close. So what is it? Simply put Functional Strength Training (FST) is a method that will get you stronger in ways that improve your ability to move better so you can do the things you need to do and like to do better and with less pain or discomfort.

Walking can improve your cardiovascular fitness some but that’s about it. FST can improve your strength, power, balance, mobility, gait, body composition … and much more while keeping your joints safe and happy! And the beauty of it is that you don’t need any complicated machines.

Our small group personal training is built around Functional Strength Training that is geared specifically towards the older adult and our clients get amazing results! Try this mini-FST routine for yourself and I guarantee you will start moving and feeling better in no time.

Functional Strength Training Circuit

Perform each of the following exercise movements for 30 seconds and move quickly on to the next movement without any rest. After you complete the entire circuit rest for 1-2 min and repeat twice for a total of three times. The whole thing will take less than 15 min.

1. Power Stand (stand up and sit down in a standard height hard chair as quickly as you can with your arms crossed on your chest)

2. One Legged Stand (stand on one leg with your arms crossed on your chest for 15 seconds each leg; for a greater challenge put your arms over your head and/or close your eyes)

3. Front Plank (lie face down on the floor; prop yourself up on your elbows and forearms; lift your entire body towards the ceiling so your body is in a straight line from head to toes — only your toes and forearms will be in contact with the ground)

4. Grapevine Right and Left (walk sideways to the right alternating crossing the left foot in front and then behind the right foot; after several steps repeat to the left — try to do this quickly)

5. Walking Lunge (while standing take a big step forward and drop your back knee towards the ground while also bending your front knee; at the bottom of the movement you would be in a kneeling position although only go down as far as you feel you are capable of; then bring your back leg towards your front leg so that you are standing again; repeat by stepping forward with your other leg)

6. Wall or Counter Pushups (stand an arm’s length distance from a wall; place your hands on the wall about shoulder width apart with your arms straight; lower your body towards the wall by bending your arms until your face and chest are close to the wall; then push yourself away by straightening your arms; keep your body straight the entire time; a countertop can be used to provide more of a challenge)

7. Braided Walk on Toes (while standing on your toes walk forward crossing one foot over the other with each step; for added challenge close your eyes, raise your knee with each step or walk backwards)

8. Side Lunge with Reach (take a big step to the right and reach your left hand towards your right foot; keep your left leg relatively straight but bend the right leg to lower your hips towards the floor; return to a standing position and repeat on the left; keep alternating right and left)

Perform this routine 2-3 times per week.


Michael Gelfgot is certified though the Functional Aging Institute and has over 15 years of experience in the health and wellness industry and works at Anytime Fitness, Piqua.

Michael Gelfgot is certified though the Functional Aging Institute and has over 15 years of experience in the health and wellness industry and works at Anytime Fitness, Piqua.