Exercise for the Older Adults: Turning Household Jobs into a Workout

As we age exercise remains vital for our health and wellbeing. Studies show exercise can improve our life expectancy and reduce the risk of us developing various age related health issues. With just a little dose of exercise each day, we can live longer, healthier lives.

Staying physically active into our older adulthood ensures adequate muscle strength and bone health, maintains heart and lung health and mental acuity, as well as reducing the risk of developing Chronic Diseases such as diabetes, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

The body changes with age and maturity. Our blood pressure increases, our lung capacity decreases, we gradually loose muscles mass, our joints deteriorate and our metabolism slows. These changes can lead to decreased cardiovascular fitness and decreased muscle strength potentially making day to day tasks more difficult than they once were. It has been proven that physical activity can slow such age related changes allowing us to continue to live a healthy and active life.

There are many ways to stay physically active in our day to day life that doesn’t include sweating it out at a gym. In fact with a little imagination simple tasks that we do on a day to day basis can be turned into a great workout for our mind and body. Think of vacuuming, watching TV, hanging out the washing and making our beds being our daily dose of exercise.

Here are five easy ways to stay physically active in and around the home:

  1. Vacuuming – A workout in itself. Vacuuming is a great workout for our heart and lungs. Zoom through the rooms to get our hearts racing.
  2. Watching TV – The ad breaks of our favourite program are a great time to fit some exercise in for our lower limbs. Try 5-10 Sit to Stands in and out of our chair. In a seated position, alternate extending our legs squeezing our thigh muscles for the duration of one ad. Squeeze and relax our buttock muscles 10-12 times. Rest and enjoy the TV program and repeat next ad break.
  3. Hanging out the washing – Pick an item of clothing out of the basket, march on the spot 5-10 times, hang the item of clothing on the line, pick another item, perform 5-10 mini squats, hang the item on the line. Repeat 2-3 times for a great whole body workout.
  4. Making the bed – A task we complete when we arise each morning. It has to be done so why not add a few extra moves to turn it into a workout for our arms. Pull the sheets up five times. Shake the doona out five times. Press the pillows in the air five times. Repeat this twice for a perfectly made bed and a great exercise routine for our arms.
  5. Walking – Plain and simple. Put the kitchen timer on for 10 minutes and walk. Up and down the hallway. To the front door. To the back door. Up and down the steps. Around the lounge room and kitchen. Anywhere that is at a pace that will get our heart beating a little faster.


Just a little bit of exercise each day in the comfort of our own home can do wonders for our health!


Jaclyn is an ESSA Accredited Exercise Physiologist specialising in Chronic Disease Management and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation.