Health & Wellness | June 3, 2022 |

The Best 5-Minute Workouts for Older Adults

3 minute read
The Best 5-Minute Workouts for Older Adults

We all know how daunting fitness resolutions can be. But why not start small? If you’ve got a packed schedule, quick workouts are a great way to fit exercise into your day and enjoy all the benefits it has to offer. Even a five-minute workout improves your energy and your focus. Plus, it’s easier to commit to full, consistent workouts if you’re already in the habit of regular movement. Get started with these simple ways to easily incorporate movement into your day.

The benefits of brief exercise for older adults

We all know that exercise has benefits: improved mental health, physical strength, defence against chronic disease, depression and injury, flexibility, improved mood, and a longer life. 

It’s ideal to have at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, but studies show small intervals of exercise have benefits too. Short bursts of exercise can improve cardiovascular and long-term health, building up to a healthier lifestyle. 

Investing money is a great metaphor for this kind of exercise. Of course it’s ideal to put big numbers in a savings account, but small consistent investments add up, too––especially if you make them a habit. Use those 5-20 minute pockets of time throughout the day to start investing in your heart health and overall fitness.

Read more about the 10 best exercises for older adults.

How can I be more active?

Start with smaller and more realistic goals and then shape your exercise around your existing schedule.  A fitness routine that works for you means setting realistic goals that are right for you. If you aim too high –– like resolving to go from a sedentary lifestyle to running a marathon in a matter of weeks –– you’re likely to get discouraged or burn out instead of building a sustainable fitness routine. 

In James Clear’s bestselling book Atomic Habits, he talks about the science behind habit-building and how tiny steps, like a 5-minute workout, can help you build an active lifestyle and habits that stick. If you can convince yourself to get to the gym for five minutes every day for four weeks, you’re likely to stay a bit longer and you won’t dread or avoid a gruelling one-hour workout.

Knowing that you don’t have to stay for long lets you trick yourself into going. It might sound silly to schedule a gym trip where the drive itself is longer than the planned workout, but habit-building lets you reduce the friction or the resistance you have to exercise. You’re building a foundation on which you can make bigger goals and lengthen your workouts over time.

If you’ve got a packed schedule or find that you’ve already got too much on the go, you may find that scheduling exercise is a challenge. Try integrating movement into your everyday activities or moments when you’d usually reach for your phone and start scrolling. 

An older woman practices stretching while on a walk

How can I find the time to exercise?

Notice the moments in your day when you’re waiting, stalling, or in limbo between other activities. These opportunities give you a chance to take the stairs, do some deep stretches, or get your heart pumping with burpees, yoga poses, or a dance break. 

  • Have you been put on hold for half an hour with waiting room jazz playing in the background? Put the call on speakerphone and move while you’re waiting. Try a video for five-minute ab exercises, or breathe deeply while doing some deep stretches.
  • The 15 minutes right before you head out the door can be a great time to meditate, stretch, and move.
  • Make some simple, energizing movements part of your morning routine. Waiting for water to boil in the morning for your first cup of tea or coffee can be a good moment to get in 15 sit ups or a round of pushups to start the day off right.
  • When you’re early for work or an appointment, park farther away and enjoy a walk or take the stairs instead.
  • Look for opportunities to explore and exercise. When visiting a friend in a new neighbourhood, keep your eyes peeled for a new park to discover or a community centre with free classes. Try new hobbies in retirement that involve movement while you’re enjoying an activity that you already love.
  • If you live in a city, look for local parks, outdoor gyms, or free fitness classes to make new friends and get exercise close to home.
  • Do you have an unconventional schedule? Boomerang offers a variety of on-demand exercise classes for older adults, so you can choose a time that works best for you.

What kind of exercise can I do on a tight schedule?

  • Start with the classics. Traditional strength-building exercises have stood the test of time for good reason. Try sit-ups, planks, burpees, squats, or pushups (you can modify these with knees on the ground) to sneak in a mini-workout. Aging bodies are more vulnerable to muscle loss, so invest in building up strength over time. 
  • Stretching is a great way to release muscle tension, engage deep breathing, and calm your nervous system. Meditation podcasts can be a great way to check in with yourself, breathe deeply, and reset your day.
  • Yoga positions can be a useful way to improve flexibility and strength while bringing awareness back into your body. Start by learning some of the yoga poses for total beginners and choose a few to do in your next free pocket of time.
  • Notice what positions you enjoy in your next Pilates or Zumba class, and practice these when you have a few spare minutes. By learning the basics of Zumba muscle toning or balance-building movements, you can come back to these whenever you have a gap in your day. Start your day with one of our online strength and balance classes, using the warm-up sequences to improve circulation and wake up muscles. This is a great way to warm up your body.
  • Look for alternatives to driving whenever possible to get extra steps and movement in. Look for opportunities to walk further, take the stairs, carry groceries, or ride your bicycle around the block. 
  • Having a bad day? Reset with a playlist you love. Put on your favourite album and dance like no one’s watching, moving your body in a way that feels good to you.

A grandfather carries his granddaughter on his shoulders while out for a walk

Get active with family

If you have grandkids, you’ve likely noticed how contagious––and endless!––their energy is. Combine family time with activities like biking, nature exploration, swimming lessons, an at-home dance party (complete with costumes of course), or a trip to a museum or science centre that integrates walking into your day. It’s always easier to get steps in when you’re enjoying yourself! 

If you have adult children, a weekly walk on a local trail can be a great way to catch up and stay connected. Ask your family or friends what kinds of exercise they’re excited about lately––you may end up loving kickboxing or Tai Chi!

Learn more about our online tai chi classes for older adults.

Boomerang can help make exercise fun

Building habits doesn’t have to be intimidating, just adding a little movement can improve your overall quality of life. Boomerang’s online wellness classes for seniors are designed to easily fit into your days and are suitable for all fitness levels.

Pursuing your interests or rediscovering your passions has never been easier. With Boomerang, older adults can register for over 100+ online classes a month in areas of physical, mental and financial wellness. Our online classes are led by passionate instructors to help you live your life to the fullest. 

Sign up to Boomerang today.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.

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