July 12, 2020

15-minute Sample Workout for Older Adults from Go4Life


SANDY MAGRATH: Hi! Welcome to Go4Life, an exercise campaign from the National Institute on Aging at NIH.

My name is Sandy Magrath.

I'm a personal trainer and fitness instructor.

We're going to do a sample workout so you'll be able to watch me and follow along, with Mitter, Irene, Grisel and Jerry.

For equipment you'll need a sturdy chair with arms.

Two equally weighted objects like dumbbells, soup cans, or water bottles.

Two tennis balls, and a towel.

I'll be teaching at a more challenging level with Irene and Mitter.

While Grisel and Jerry will do modified versions of the same exercises.

Always listen to your body.

We're going to start with our warm-up.

Every time you exercise you should always warm up before you start doing strength exercises.

How's everybody feeling? GROUP: Great! MS SANDY MAGRATH: You guys ready to go? GROUP: Yeah.


SANDY MAGRATH: Let's start with our warm-up here we go.

So we're going to start with a march and so what we're doing is we're warming up the muscles and getting the blood flowing, raising the heart rate just a little bit.

Good so you want to start out slow and then you can just pick it up as you want to.

So we're gonna march for 4, 3, 2 more, and get ready we're going to get right to a step touch right now.

Here we go- step, touch.

Now when you're doing your warmup if you don't do it exactly like I do that's okay because all we're doing is warming up those muscles.

So you want to have good posture, abs in, shoulders back and head up.

We're going to do 4 more, guys, and 3, last 2, We're going to take it back to a march.

So march it right here.

March it out and we're going to do 4, 3, 2 hold it right there.

Feet are steady, your feet should be shoulder distance apart.

Take the arms up loosening up the shoulders now.

So take it up, and down, take it up, and down.

Can you guys feel that everything starting to loosen up a little bit? GROUP: Yeah.

MS SANDY MAGRATH: Here we go, let's do 5 more, and 4, last 3, 2 more, and 1.

Now what I want you to do is I want you to reach back.

Make sure your chair is behind you and you're going to have a seat.

Now what we're going to do is we're going to warm up the quads now.

So your're going to have your arms out and just stand it up, and take it down, and stand it up, and take it down, stand it up.

How you guys doing back there? GROUP: Good! MS SANDY MAGRATH: Okay.

Now you should feel your legs starting to warm up.

And let's just do 4 more.

What you do in your warm up- a lot of times you'll do exercises or your warm-up will resemble the exercises that your're going to do later.

So you're warming up those muscles.

Here we go this is the last one.

Take it down keep that seated position, take your hands put it right on the sides of the chairs.

Take your legs out they should be shoulder width apart.

So go ahead, Grisel.

Take the feet just a little bit wider, a little bit wider there you go.

Now we're going to point the toes.

This is warming up your calves and your ankles So stretch, and flex, stretch and flex, stretch, and flex.

Let's do 3 more, and 2, and last 1.

MITTER: You can feel your calf you know? MS.

SANDY MAGRATH: Yeah, good job that's great.

Now does everybody feel pretty warm? MITTER: Yeah.


SANDY MAGRATH: Okay, now if you need a little bit more time to warm up, you can always take a couple extra minutes.

But we're going to go ahead and start our strength and balance exercises.

The first thing we're going to do is arm curls and we're going to 10 of them.

Grisel and Jerry are going to be our modifiers and what they're going to do is they're going to stay in a seated position.

The rest of you we're gonna grab our weights and we're going to turn around.

Now you want your feet to be shoulder distance apart.

Pull those are your feet to be shoulder to support pull your shoulders back, abs in, head is up.

Elbows should be tight to the side and take it up for an arm curl.

We're going to do 10 of these.

Here we go and 2, 3.

Now, if you feel it getting a little bit hard you want to be sure that you continue to breathe.

And you want to breathe on the upward movement, the exertion.

We've got 2 more.

How are you guys doing? GROUP: Good.


SANDY MAGRATH: Your form looks good.

Now, if you ever want to practice, and that's good.

Now shake out those shoulders just for a second.

The next exercise is the overhead arm raise.

You want to have your arms- let me just check everybody out.

You want to have your arms in 90-degree angles or goal post position.

So take it up, and you can use different things when you're doing this.

You can use you know soup cans, water bottles, I'm using dumbbells.

Here we go, we've got 4 more to go.

And 3, and if you ever get tired you can always stop, and 1 more, here we go- take it up take it down.

Once again- relax those shoulders.

The next thing we're going to do is chair dips.

Take it down, put the weights down and we're going to have a seat in the chair.

Now you want to have your hands on either arm of the chair and what you're going to do is you're going to lift yourself up.

Now this is a difficult exercise so if even if you just lift just ever so slightly, it's a good thing.

So we're going to 10 of these and take it up.

So we're working the backs of the arms, or the triceps.

Okay, I know you guys can feel these.

Now you want to make sure that the chair that you're using is not too wide.

You want to make sure that it's about shoulder-width.

So that way you're not going to put any stress on your shoulders or your elbows.

We've got 2 more of these, and last 1.


Okay the next exercise is the chair stand and now we did this in the warm-up but we're going to modify it just ever so slightly.

So, what I want to do is cross your arms.

You guys good? Okay.

Lean it back, take it up, arms are out.

Stand it up.

So once again when you lean back, we're adding a little bit of ab work- so draw those abs in tight- and then when you're standing, you're working those legs.

Cross, lean back, now breathe out on the exertion- so that would be when you do it.

Breathe in now, so cross the arms, lean back, and forward.

Take it up.

Now if you have any problems with your knees, you know, this is something that you might want to modify.

So, you know, listen to your body.

This is your workout and you want to make it so that you can do it comfortably and safely.

So take it down.

How you guys doing back there? GROUP: Good! MS SANDY MAGRATH: Okay, we've got 3 more.

Now you guys are breathing aren't you? GROUP: Yes.

MS SANDY MAGRATH: Okay, now remember the exertion is the standing up part.

We've got 1 more after this one.

Is everybody good? Last 1, and take it down.

Okay, now we're going to move right into lower body.

This was working the quads but we're going to work on the lower body now.

So we're going to side leg raises and we're going to do 10 side leg raises.

Draw the abs in tight, stand behind your chair.

Now be sure at home to hold onto the chair until you feel very comfortable.

So you're going to get that good posture position.

Abs in, shoulders back, head up, and take the leg out to the side.

Now you want to make sure that you keep your legs straight and the foot flexed.

That way you're going to get the most out of the exercise.

Take it out to the side.

We're working the hips or the abductors.

We've got 3 more, last 2, and just 1 more.

Now shake it out or do little steps and we're going to move right over to the other side.

Here we go- left side, take it out.

Remember straight leg and good posture.

Now if you get tired, you can always push that pause button and come right back to us.

If you need to get a drink of water, do it whenever you need to.

We've got just 2 more, and 1 more, perfect.

Once again, little steps, shake out those hips.

Next exercise, back leg raise.

So are we ready? GROUP: Ready! MS SANDY MAGRATH: Abs in, take that leg back.

Once again, legs should be straight.

Good posture, foot is flexed.

Good posture, foot is flexed.

Here we're working the hamstrings, or the back of the leg, and the glutes.

Here we go.

We've got 3 more, and 2, and 1.

Here we go, shake it out.

We've got the other side now.

Here we go- take it back.

MITTER: You can feel the pressure.


SANDY MAGRATH: Okay, now Mitter, what I'd like you to do- your're starting to lean forward just a little bit like this, so keep that posture good.

We've got 4 more, perfect.

Now posture is so important and just 1 more.

Okay, take it down.

Let's go ahead.


Okay, now last exercise- grip.

Grab the tennis balls.

Once again- now this time I want everybody to think about your posture just because you're seated doesn't mean you should be like this, okay? Pull those shoulders back, sit up straight and draw those abs in tight.

I always ask my clients “When are you supposed to hold your abs in?” And they scratch their head and they're thinking.

Now we're going to 10 reps, 3 to 5 seconds.

And then after they think about it for a little bit, they go “Well, when am I supposed to hold my abs in?” I go, “All the time!” So, when you're walking down the street, keep that posture good.

And squeeze.

And draw those abs in tight, keep the shoulders back, keep your head up Let's do 4, release, 3, release, last 2, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, hard, hard, hard, release 1 more time.

We're gonna hold this for five seconds, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1.

I want you to grab your towel from underneath your chair.

Go ahead and stand up.

What you're gonna do is you're going to take your towel, put it in your right hand.

I'd like you throw it over your right shoulder, grabbing the back of the bottom of the towel with your left hand.

And what I'd like you to do is keep the elbow nice and tight to the side of your head and pull down.

Now you're gonna hold each stretch- 15 to 30 seconds, so that's a good amount of time.

Don't cheat on it, okay? GROUP:[LAUGHTER] MS SANDY MAGRATH: It's so easy everybody, everybody finishes their workouts and then they just walk away.

But stretching and flexibility is so, so, so important.

So what I'd like you to do- once again pull down and relax it just one more time.

Let's do it one more time.

Now this time going to hold it for that 15 seconds.

So hold, you at home, too.

Keep the elbows tight to the side of your head.

That way you're really stretching out those the shoulder, the triceps, and– let's go ahead and switch sides.

Now what I'd like you to do- hold the towel in your left hand, throw it over your left shoulder, Grab the towel with your right hand, down low.

Okay, you guys got it all? Okay, here we go- now, elbows close to the side.

Once again holding 15 to 30 seconds and you can do 3 to 5 of these, okay? So we're going to do 3.

And take it down.

Now remember stretching is to slight tension, no pain.

And let's just go ahead and relax it for a second and then pull it back down.

A lot of times with the stretching each time you do it you might get a little bit more stretch out of it- not always but sometimes.

But it's something that you need to work on, on a daily basis.

Stretching you can do everyday, and relax it.

And let's do one more time.

We're going to hold this one for a long time okay guys.

And take it down and hold.

Once again, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.

That allows you to relax your body and allows maybe just a little bit more stretch.

Ok and done.


What we're going to do now take the towels, put them back under your chairs, have a seat.

We're going to stretch out the ankles.

Now we did stretching the ankles in our warm-up but, once again, we've done a lot of exercises between now and then.

And what we want to do is we want to stretch those calf muscles and ankles back out.

So what we're going to do, is everybody good? Point the toes and hold it.

And let's go ahead- we're going to go ahead point the toes back up toward the ceiling, or towards your midsection, and relax the shoulders.

Sometimes I find myself tensing up a little bit, too.

So if you're at home and you feel your shoulders tightening up, go ahead and relax.

Give yourself a little bobble head there and point the toes.

And let's point them up toward the ceiling.

Okay, this time we're going to hold it for a bit longer, and point.

And hold it for 5, 4, 3, 2, and back up to the ceiling.

Okay, can you guys feel that working? GROUP: Yes.

MS SANDY MAGRATH: Good job, good job.

Okay hold it for 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1.

You guys did a great job.

You guys at home I hope you enjoyed the workout.

Thank you so much.


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