Senior Wellness: 3 Quick Indoor Exercise Routines for Cold February Days

Staying fit and active is important for many seniors, especially those looking to prevent or manage chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. But it can be hard to be motivated in the cold winter days of February! Outdoor walks, hikes, or bike rides in slush, rain, and snow become much less appealing. However, staying active is even more important in the winter, especially if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder or any other mental health conditions. Keep reading for some senior indoor exercise routines for cold winter days to make staying active a little easier.


Note: Always consult your healthcare provider before beginning any new exercise routine. If you have recent injuries, back problems, hip or knee issues, or other health conditions, make sure you ask your healthcare team about modifications to keep all exercises safe for you. Muscle soreness is normal, but if any exercise is ever sharply painful, stop immediately. 


Senior Indoor Low-Impact Cardio Exercise Routine

Cardiovascular exercise is extremely important both for your heart health and your mental health. Seniors are sometimes reluctant to do any kind of “cardio,” because it typically involves running, jumping, and high-impact movements that can be hard on the joints or even painful. However, you don’t have to run or jump to get a great cardio workout, and you don’t even have to leave your living room! Follow this 15 minute interval workout below 3 times a week to improve your cardiovascular fitness. For these senior indoor exercise routines, do each exercise for 50 seconds, followed by a 10 second rest. You can use a timer on your phone or computer, like Tabata Timer, to make this even easier.


Interval 1: Warm Up: High Elbows March In Place.

With your arms bent in front of you, elbows parallel to each other, march in place. Try to lift your knees toward your elbows. Go faster or slower depending on your current fitness level.

Interval 2: Seated Row

Sit down on a hard chair or stool, with your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Extend your arms in front, then pull your elbows back, squeezing your shoulder blades together. This rowing motion tones your back, shoulders, and arms. For added challenge, hold a 3 to 5 pound hand weight in each hand as you row.

Interval 3: Leg Lifts

Hold on to the back of a chair or table. Lift one leg to the side and draw a semi-circle in the air, then switch legs. You can add a challenge to this by wearing a resistance band around your legs, at about mid thigh. This exercise tones your glute muscles and improves balance.

Interval 4: Air Squats

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Squat back as though you are going to sit in a chair, then return to a standing position. Focus on your glutes as you squat. To modify this exercise, you can actually sit down into a chair, then return to standing without using your hands. If this feels easy, use a resistance band worn around your legs at mid-thigh.

Interval 5: Chair Bicycle

Sit on a chair or stool and lean slightly back. Lift your feet and simulate a bicycle pedaling motion. The further you lean back (without resting your back on the chair), the more challenging this exercise will be. This is a great exercise for your core stabilizing muscles.


Repeat these intervals 3 times for a 15 minute workout. Follow it up with some gentle stretching to cool down.


Senior Indoor Mobility Exercise Routine

Mobility is an important part of senior health. Joints and muscles tend to stiffen as you age, so it’s important to keep moving. By maintaining your mobility, you’ll be able to move more easily, continue to enjoy doing the things you love, and reduce your risk of injury. Follow this 15 minute senior indoor exercise routine below 3 times a week to improve your mobility. For these senior indoor exercise routines, do each exercise for 50 seconds, followed by a 10 second rest. You can use a timer on your phone or computer, like Tabata Timer, to make this even easier.


Interval 1: Goalpost Arms

This exercise will help increase shoulder flexibility and stability. You can add hand weights of 1-5 pounds to add some resistance that will build muscle in your back, arms, and shoulders.


Start standing with feet hip width apart, or sitting on a chair with your feet flat on the floor.

Form a “goalpost” shape with your arms (90 degree angle, with the elbows parallel to each other). While squeezing your shoulder blades together, bring your forearms together in front of your face. Return your arms to starting position (squeezing your shoulder blades together).


Interval 2: Side Bends

This is a good core workout that also improves and maintains your spinal mobility. Make sure you keep your feet flat on the floor as you do the exercise, and don’t allow your chest to collapse inwards.


Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor, or stand with your feet hip-width apart. Place one hand behind your head and the other arm straight out to the side. Lean over to the side as if you were reaching toward the floor. Squeeze your core muscles and return to sitting upright or standing.


Interval 3: Trunk Rotation

The lower lumbar region of your spine is an important part of all movement. This exercise will improve your flexibility and range of motion, and reduce back pain. 


Start by sitting on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Twist your upper body so your shoulders rotate to your left side. Place your right hand on the outside of your left knee. For a deeper stretch, place your left hand behind the back of the chair. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat on the right side.


Interval 4: Bird Dog

This exercise helps with your joint mobility, balance, and core strength. 


Start on all fours with your hands below shoulders and knees below hips. Engage your abs, keep your spine neutral, and look down or slightly forward. Lift your right arm and extend your left leg until they are in line with the rest of your body. Pause, then lower back down, and repeat on the opposite side with left arm and right leg extended. Make it easier by keeping both hands on the floor, and only extending your leg. 

Interval 5: Side-to-Side Squat

This one tones your glutes, engages your core, and helps your knees remember how to move!


Stand with your feet apart, wider than your hips. Make sure you feel balanced, adjusting your feet until you feel comfortable. Clasp your hands in front of your chest, and brace your core.

Bend your left knee, and sit back, keeping your right leg straight and your core strong. Keep your knee in line with your left foot–don’t allow it to twist outward or inward. Return to center, and repeat on the opposite side. To make this easier, you can rest your arms on your hips or hold on to a wall for support. If this exercise causes knee pain, don’t bend your knees as much or squat as low.


Yoga-Inspired Senior Indoor Exercise Routine

Yoga is a great discipline for seniors who want to stay fit and healthy. It combines elements of mobility, balance, and flexibility. You may be surprised at how much it gets your heart rate up, too! Follow this 15 minute interval workout below 3 times a week to improve your flexibility, strength, and balance. For these senior indoor exercise routines, do each exercise for 50 seconds, followed by a 10 second rest. You can use a timer on your phone or computer, like Tabata Timer, to make this even easier.


Interval 1: Cat and Cow

Begin on all fours on a yoga mat or carpeted surface. As you inhale, drop your belly and lift your head up to the sky, arching your back downwards. Then, as you exhale, reverse the arch of your back. Look down at the ground and arch your back upwards, like a frightened cat’s back. Continue alternating these two movements in sync with your breath.


Interval 2: Downward Dog to Plank

Begin again on all fours. Now, straighten your legs and push your chest backward toward your legs. Your head should be between your hands, making a triangular shape with your body. Keeping your arms and legs straight, shift forward to a plank position. Hold for one breath. Then shift backward to your downward dog (V-shaped) position. Continue shifting forward to plank, then backward to downward dog. To make this exercise easier, drop your knees to the ground when moving to plank, so you move to an all fours position instead.  If this hurts your wrists, try a forearm plank instead with your forearms on the ground. 


Interval 3: Sun Salutations

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Sweep your arms out and upward and look up to the sky. Then, lower your hands in front of your chest in a prayer position. Keeping your legs straight or with a slight bend in your knee, lean toward the ground and extend your arms as if you were going to touch your toes. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings and upper back. Then, sweep your hands back up to the sky and return to an upright position. Repeat moving from arms up, to prayer, to a toe-touch position. 


Interval 4: Tree Pose

For a true balance test, give tree pose a try. Stand with your feet together and your core engaged. Turn your left toes to the left. Lift your foot and place it on your calf or, for a true balance and flexibility challenge, try to lift it all the way up to press against your right inner thigh.You can use your hands to help place your foot. Don’t place your foot directly against your knee. Bring your hands to prayer position in front of you.  If this is too challenging, hold on to a chair or wall, or just place the bottom of your left foot on top of the arch of your right foot instead of lifting it. Hold for as long as you can, or 3 breaths. Repeat on the other side.


Interval 5: Butterfly Pose

Sit on the floor, with your spine tall and the soles of your feet together, knees extending to the sides. Fold forward to get a deeper stretch. Don’t round your back, but rather hinge forward from the hips. Breathe deeply as you feel this stretch. If you get tired, you can return to an upright seated position, and then fold forward again. 


Stellar Living hopes these quick senior indoor exercise routines help you stay fit through the cold winter days! Considering senior living? Our senior living communities feature indoor gyms and exercise classes all year long! Call to tour a community near you today.