7 Fitness & Wellness Class Ideas to Keep Older Adults Moving

There are 960 million people around the world over 60 years old who are interested in living their healthiest life. Here are seven ideas to keep your older membership active and engaged.

Despite what the Instagram models and stock image sites would have you believe, working out is not just a young person’s game. More and more adults are continuing to see the benefits of an active lifestyle as they age. Some older adults are even realizing it's never too late to start their active journey.

Joining a gym is an excellent way for older adults to exercise in a safe and informative environment, and could even help prevent senior isolation—which as of 2010 affected 11 million seniors—by allowing them to connect with others who may share their newfound love for a class or workout.

So, if you see an influx of older adults showing an interest in joining your gym, or if you want to let the more mature population in your community know your gym is the right place for them, consider adding classes like these to your schedule.

7 Great Class Ideas for Older Adults

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1. Restorative or Modified Yoga

Yoga is beneficial for stability, flexibility, and balance. Restorative yoga can help improve flexibility and strength. Chair yoga offers an alternative for people who are unable to get up and down from the floor. It is also a great way to include people who use a wheelchair.

2. Aquatic Aerobics

Water’s buoyancy creates less impact on bones and joints, making aquatic aerobics a good alternative for older adults with arthritis, sore joints, or people with bone and joint injuries, who must get 150 minutes of weekly moderate activity.

3. Functional Fitness

Often, older adults lose their independence because of a reduced ability to perform movements like sitting in or getting up from a chair, or being able to reach food on the top shelf. Think about offering classes focused on strengthening the muscles and coordination required to perform these daily activities.

4. Fall Prevention

Balance and physical activity are essential in preventing falls, a leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injury in older adults. Offering classes focused on both activity and non-activity-based aspects of preventing falls can help older adults improve strength and coordination. You can find information about different fall prevention programs on the National Council on Aging’s website.

5. Partner or Line Dancing

Many older adults don't receive the amount of social interaction we all need. Line dancing is a great way to provide that in the midst of a fun, engaging aerobic workout.

6. Nutrition for Healthy Aging

As people age, their risk for nutritional deficiencies can change, too. For example, older adults are at greater risk for dehydration and inadequate protein and fiber intake. Have an outside nutrition expert—or a staff dietitian—host classes that provide older adults with the dietary information they need to eat healthy.

7. Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a relaxing, low-impact form of exercise. Studies show it helps improve sleep quality, muscle strength, balance, and flexibility—all of which can help older adults maintain their health and independence.

Do the older adults in your community favor a particular class? Are you offering senior-specific programming? We want to know! Tell us about it on Facebook and Twitter!

Author avatar

Alexandra Black Larcom

Alexandra Black Larcom, MPH, RD, LDN, previously served as IHRSA's Senior Manager of Health Promotion & Health Policy—a position dedicated to creating resources and projects to help IHRSA members offer effective health programs, and promoting policies that advance the industry.