10 minutes to activate the cardio

Running will help you stay active as you age, but when you’re running miles, your body is constantly working in the sagittal plane (as it is when you’re moving forward). This limits your range of motion in other planes of motion, which may limit your overall mobility in the long term. Without exercises that get you moving in new ways and building strength, you also risk injury.

That’s exactly why you need a workout designed for seniors, like the one below, that gets you out of your comfort zone, gets your heart rate up, and helps you stay lean and strong on and off the road.

Benefits of aerobic exercise for top runners

As you get older, it’s important to maintain your running routine and stay active throughout the day, as research shows that exercise can help you maintain bone health, prevent hospitalizations, and help you live longer.

Plus, with fast-paced aerobic exercises like this one that incorporate multilevel exercises, you challenge your balance, boost your strength, and increase your aerobic capacity – all important fitness factors for professional athletes.

“With these exercises, you will move across multiple planes, which will expand your range of motion and allow you to go about your daily activities feeling strong and confident,” says Amber Reese, Head of Curriculum at the school. Barry In New York City and co-founder of Brave Body Project, and the creator of this exercise. Consider this exercise a comprehensive approach to target the muscles you use in your daily life, she adds.

More specifically, this routine includes two different types of squats. The squat is a traditional exercise known to build strength in the lower body, while improving mobility in the hip, knee and ankle. Because squatting strengthens your hips, buttocks, quadriceps, and hamstrings, Reese says, it can also help reduce back and joint pain.

And the brisk pace of the side lift, knee lift side step, and standing knee drive included here gets you working at a high intensity, while increasing your heart rate to help improve your cardio endurance. And even better: All of these exercises are low-impact, provide resting joints (and make the moves a great complement to running!), while getting your blood pumping and reaping some health benefits like boosted energy and mood, he says. Reese.

How to use this list: On a Rate of Exertion (RPE) scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is your all-out effort, practice this routine with a strength of 5 to 7.

Perform each exercise in the order listed below for 40 seconds each, resting 20 seconds between each exercise. Complete two rounds of this list, resting 60 seconds between rounds.

Reese demonstrates exercises so you can learn proper form. You don’t need any equipment, but an exercise mat is optional.

1. Squat

Aerobics for the elderly, squatting exercise Reese

Amber Reese

Why it works: Squats – one of the most functional exercises, as you do it every time you sit down and stand up – target your hips, glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings, which you need most during your running and everyday life.

How do I do it: Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes slightly pointed, and arms down at the sides. Send your hips back and down, bending your knees to lower them into a squat, and raise your arms in front of you. Press the feet into the floor to stand back up and lower the arms down at the sides. repeats.

2. Side step jack

Aerobic exercise for seniors who do the side step jack

Amber Reese

Why it works: This modification of the jump jack has you moving in a frontal plane (from side to side), without adding any effect.

How do I do it: Stand with feet together and arms down at sides. Step to the left while simultaneously raising both arms to shoulder height and placing left hand over right hand. Bring the left foot back to the center, then step out with the right foot while placing the right hand on the left at the same time. Return right foot to center. Continue alternating.

3. Side step to raise the knee

Aerobic exercise for the elderly who do the lateral step to raise the knee

Amber Reese

Why it works: Doing this exercise will improve your coordination and balance, while also improving knee mobility.

How do I do it: Stand with feet together and arms at sides, elbows bent. Take three to four steps to the left, starting with the left foot and then the right, swinging the arms back and forth in opposite directions. On the final step, push right knee to hip height. Repeat the move to the right, driving the left knee up to hip height on the last step. Continue alternating.

4. Knee drive

Aerobic exercise for elderly people who exercise knee motor

Amber Reese

Why it works: This exercise will help you improve single-leg stability while also strengthening your legs and buttocks.

How do I do it: Start with both arms overhead, hands together, left leg bent, right leg extended behind you. Drive the right knee into the chest while lowering your hands down to tap the right thigh. Then drive the right foot back to tap the ground. Repeat for 20 seconds and then switch to the other side.

5. Squat with a knee lift

Aerobic exercise for the elderly

Amber Reese

Why it works: This exercise will challenge your balance, while building strength in your lower body.

How do I do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms down at sides. Send your hips back and down, bending your knees to lower them into a squat, and put your arms in front of you. Press feet into the floor to stand back up, then shift weight to right leg and bend left knee to raise knee to hip height, balancing on right leg. Step left knee back down and repeat the squat. This time, raise the knee on the right side. Continue alternating while performing squats.

Monique Lebrun's photo

Monique Lebrun joined the editorial board in October 2021 as Associate Editor for Health and Fitness. She has a master’s degree in journalism and previously worked for ABC News and Scholastic. She is an avid runner who loves spending time outside.

Headshot of Mallory Creveling

Deputy Editor, Health and Fitness

ACE Certified Personal Trainer and RRCA Certified Running Coach, Mallory Creveling joined the Runner’s World and Bicycling team in August 2021. She has over a decade of experience covering fitness, health and nutrition. As a freelance writer, her work has appeared in Women’s Health, Psychology, Men’s Magazine, Reader’s Digest, and more. She has also held editorial positions at Family Circle and Shape magazines as well Formerly a New Yorker/Brooklyn resident, she now resides in Easton, Pennsylvania.

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