squats for elderly

Squats for elderly

Squats for elderly people are a fantastic exercise help preserve and even grow muscle mass and strength in the legs. 

Last updated January 2023

This article contains a lot of evidence based information on squatting for the elderly. I recommend using the contents table above to find the specific information about squats you are looking for. 

Today I'm going to show you exactly how to do squats really well. I'll also show you lots of variations to make them easier for those of you with limited mobility or other issues such as arthritis. I will also explain why squats for elderly are very desirable and will likely have a significantly positive impact on quality of life.

Let's start by watching the below video where I'll go through the squat in detail.

(if you can't see the video click HERE to view on Youtube)

Squats for elderly in steps

Step 1

squats for elderly

Step 2

squats for elderly

Step 3

squats for elderly

Here's a picture demonstrating some good technique points for the squat that I also talked about in the video.

squats for elderly

Why is the squat such a great exercise for the elderly and seniors?

The squat is actually a fantastic exercise across all age groups.

For older adults it's an excellent exercise to help preserve and even grow muscle mass in the legs.

During the movement of the squat all the muscles in the lower body are working (including the core).

Not only that, the squat perfectly simulates the standing to sitting and sitting to standing movement pattern. Think for a second how many times per day you sit down and stand up. Quite a few times!

Building better strength in this particular movement pattern which you use everyday can make a huge difference to your quality of life and increased independence as you age.


How many squats should I do as an elderly person?

Our bodies are extremely adaptable. If we don't place any kind of stress on our muscles (including the heart) they won't get any stronger. In fact, the ageing process makes our muscles (including the heart) become weaker overtime.

By doing resistance exercises frequently you signal your body to adapt to become stronger. The amount of stress you place on your muscles is fairly easy to gauge because we can feel it.

If you try and do 100 squats you'll probably feel lots of fatigue and pain in your legs long before you get to 100.

Essentially you should do as many squats as is needed until you feel some level of fatigue in them. That fatigue is an indicator that your are placing stress on your muscles and they will therefore adapt, grow and become stronger.


Will bodyweight squats be enough to get stronger?

At first, yes most likely. But remember I said about your body being extremely adaptive? After sometime of doing body weight squats regularly your body will adapt that level of stress and then settle.

You then need to add more stress to force the body to continue to adapt.

You can add more stress in many ways. Adding more reps or more sets. Holding onto a weight during the exercise. Slowing down or speeding up the tempo of the exercise. These are all good examples of adding more stress. It's more commonly known as progressive overload.

This study looked at 15 older adults who needed help to perform general daily activities and placed them into a 12 week bodyweight squatting programme. It concludes that Group-based body-weight squat exercise in physically frail older adults improves muscle mass and strength.

You'll learn all about this as a member of the Wise Fitness Academy. Try the first 2 weeks for free.


Can I do squats/workouts at home? 


All the Wise Fitness Academy workouts are home based (and change every month). There are so many ways to perform squats at home.

Some of our members use bottles of water a weight whilst others pop some books into a backpack.

With a little creativity home workouts can be incredibly effective and building strength and mobility as an elderly person.


chair squats for seniors

As you will have seen in the video, using a chair is a great idea if your first building up your strength or are a little nervous about doing squats. Having the chair behind you allows you to sit into it before standing back up again. If the chair has handles you can use them to help support the movement as well. It's win win!


What muscles are worked during the squat?

The squat is an example of a compound movement meaning 2 of more muscles are being worked at the same time during the exercise.

In the case of the squat the quads, the glutes and the hamstrings and the major muscles being worked. These 3 muscles account for a huge proportion of lower body musculature. Having all 3 of these muscle groups nice and strong will give you great mobility and confidence.

squats for elderly - muscles worked during squat

"But Ollie, I've heard that squats are bad for older people. Is that true"?

The simple answer is no! Squats are NOT bad for older people. On the contrary, they are generally very very good for older people to do. As I've already talked about, squats simulate probably the most common movement pattern we do everyday. To say squats are bad is a bit like saying, standing up and sitting down is bad. It's ridiculous!

Squats can be challenging, especially if you are quite frail or have arthritis. However, its fine use modifications and aids to assist with your squatting.

Using the arms of a chair, using sticks or using the back of a chair are all great ways of making squats a little bit easier to do.

It's normal to feel a bit of pain in an arthritic joint when you exercise. Try to adapt the movement the minimise that discomfort you might feel.

Get squatting if you want to build up your strength and muscle mass.

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