Home Exercise Tips for Seniors & Vulnerable Populations

Performing regular aerobic and strength exercise is key to maintaining overall function and quality of life, especially as we age. Right now, home exercise can be a safe exercise option for more vulnerable populations such as cancer patients, those with chronic conditions or seniors. Knowing where to start and what to do can be difficult, so we checked in with our Cancer Exercise Program team to better understand how they have been working with their patients during COVID-19 using home exercise programs and virtual appointments.

Q1. Is home exercise safe?

A: Home exercise is safe and effective for most people. It can be a great option if you do not feel comfortable leaving your home right now. Using virtual options, you can receive supervised home exercise or have a program designed to perform on your own. In our Cancer Exercise Program, many of our patients are currently immunocompromised and are able to exercise safely from home with a program that has been tailored to their needs.

Q2: I don’t have any equipment; how can I exercise from home?

A: For most people, minimal or no equipment is needed to get started at home. We recommend setting up in a clear space that is at least the size of a yoga mat to avoid tripping hazards. To support your joints when lying down, place a towel or mat on the floor. If you find it difficult or painful lying or kneeling on the floor, try using your bed for these exercises. Aerobic exercise can be done from inside your home with body weight movements (check out our video for more ideas!). For strength training, you can use your body weight, exercise bands (e.g. Therabands) or dumbbells as resistance. We have designed 2 short videos to get you started from home with no exercise equipment. [link – aerobic exercise video; link – strength exercise video]

Q3: Do I need to come to the clinic to get a tailored program?

A: Not at all! Many of our team members are still offering virtual consultations using online live video (similar to Facetime or Zoom). We have found that this type of delivery works very well when designing home exercise programs as it allows us to see your exercise space. If you are interested in what a virtual session looks like, check out the latest video from our Cancer Exercise Program that shows you what to expect.

Q4. How can I avoid getting injured when I exercise at home?

  • Ensure your space is clear and free of objects that might get in your way
  • Wear appropriate footwear, as if you were exercising outside
  • Build intensity over time by adding sets/reps, longer duration & increased load
  • Progress slowly and be patient – it takes time to adapt!
  • If you have questions, check in with our team

By: Cancer Exercise Specialist, Sarah Weller