12 ejercicios que le harán sentirse en plena forma

Por Julia Sullivan, entrenadora certificada por A.C.E., especialista en fitness para adultos mayores​​​​​​​ |

Relájese, potencie su energía y eleve la confianza en sí mismo con estos movimientos para sentirse bien.

You've probably heard countless times by now that exercise is good for your body. It helps you maintain mobility by keeping your bones and muscles strong. It helps stave off age-related disease and injury.

And it turns out the benefits of regular movement extend far beyond what can be measured in a doctor’s office.  

Physical activity can actually make you feel better - in the moment, in the minutes right after you've finished a workout, and over time. Whether your aim is to reduce stress, increase your confidence, or boost your energy, there's an exercise that can help.

Taking a moment to determine whether an exercise is making you feel good could be key in keeping you committed to a regular exercise routine, a 2021 study in Frontiers in Psychology shows. 

To that end, we tapped into various forms of exercise — strength training, yoga, tai chi, and cardio — and found 12 moves that can be done in different combinations to help you: 

  • Relieve stress 
  • Boost your confidence 
  • Get energized! 

Give each of them a try and add your favorites to your daily routine. Then, when you're in need of a specific kind of mood boost, you'll have a go-to plan of action.

Como siempre, la clave es la seguridad. Get your doctor’s OK before beginning a new exercise program. Estos ejercicios pueden ser diferentes o más avanzados que los que encontrará en una clase de SilverSneakers. If you have a chronic condition (including osteoporosis), balance issues, or injuries, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely. 

Stay active, have fun, get fit — with SilverSneakers! Classes and events are happening right now at participating gyms, online through SilverSneakers LIVE, and at community centers near you. Activate your free online account to get started

Best Exercise for De-Stressing: Tai Chi 

Why: Practicing tai chi can help older adults reduce anxiety and depression symptoms while boosting endorphins (the “feel-good” brain chemicals). Those were the findings of a 2020 review and meta-analysis of the physical and mental benefits of tai chi. 

Plus, it’s an exercise that can be done anywhere and without any equipment.  

SilverSneakers EnerChi classes feature modified tai chi movements that help you connect your mind and body with gentle movement. The beginner-friendly workout is offered both in-person at participating fitness locations and online through SilverSneakers LIVE.   

Press play to try a 5-minute segment led by SilverSneakers master trainer Andi Kwapien: 

How to do the moves:   

1. Open the Door (Commencement)

  • Stand tall with your feet spread a little wider than hip-distance apart and tuck your tail bone under slightly. 
  • Inhale and lift your arms up.  
  • Then, exhale and bring your arms down and bend your knees gently to sink down toward the floor as you lower your hands down.  

2. Sinking the Chi

  • Take a deep inhalation and bring your arms up to pull the energy in the room toward your body.  
  • Then, as you exhale, face both palms toward the floor and slowly press down. 

3. The Crane

  • Take a deep inhalation and shift your weight onto your left foot. 
  • Take a half step with your right foot, bringing it closer to your left foot. Lift your right heel off the floor.
  • Let your arms float up and sink down. 
  • Repeat the arm motion. You can keep your right toes down on the floor. Or, for more of a challenge, lift your right foot off the floor and bring your knee up.
  • The movement will be like that of a crane spreading its wings. 
  • For even more of a challenge, raise your arms overhead and back down. 
  • Repeat the flow on the other side of the body. 

4. Embrace the Moon

  • Inhale and open your arms wide to the sides.  
  • Exhale as you slowly move both hands to center with your right hand above the left and palms facing each other. It should feel as if you're holding a beach ball (or the moon) in front of your chest.
  • Inhale and spread arms wide again.  
  • As you exhale and move your hands to center to hold the moon again, but this time positioning your left hand above your right.  

5. Parting the Wild Horse’s Mane

  • Continue holding the moon. Point the toe of your right foot to the floor. Hold for a few seconds here.
  • Step forward with your right foot. Shift your weight forward toward your planted right foot.
  • Slowly move your hand out toward your right foot and release the moon from your grasp.  
  • Keep your left hand beside your left hip and continue the flowing motion of releasing the moon 2 to 3 times.  
  • Step your right foot back to center and bring your arms around to hold the moon, this time with your right hand above the left, palms facing each other.  
  • Repeat the flow on the other side of the body. Point your left toe to the floor and hold. Next, step your left foot forward, shift your weight forward toward your left foot and repeat the flow of releasing the moon with your left arm swaying forward.

Best Exercise for Increasing Confidence and Stability: Compound Strength Movements  

Why: Compound exercises are considered multi-joint movements that activate multiple muscles at the same time. Think: adding a chest press to the top of your squat, or a squat to your low-impact jumping jacks. Isolation exercises, on the other hand, target one main muscle at a time — like biceps curls or hamstring curls 

What this means: Compound exercises target more muscles in fewer moves than isolation exercises. Plus, most compound movements mimic real-life ones (like how a deadlift resembles picking up a grandchild or a heavy box in the garage).  

This means you can execute your daily activities with increased confidence and stability. Give these compound exercises a try:

1. Sit-to-Stand with Hammer Curl to Overhead Press Combination Exercise

This exercise builds total-body strength and helps improve your balance. It can be done with or without hand weights. If you have shoulder problems, swap the overhead press with a chest press.

How to do it: 

  • Sit tall in a sturdy chair with your shoulders back and down and your feet under your knees.  
  • Hold a small weight (1 to 2 pounds) in each hand.  
  • Let your arms hang down, elbows tucked to your sides, and palms facing you.  
  • Press through your heels to stand tall. 
  • Bend your elbows (not your wrists) and engage the front of your arms to curl your hands up to your shoulders.    
  • Then inhale and press your hands up and slightly in front of you as you straighten your arms.   
  • Reverse the movement.  
  • Return to sitting by pushing your hips back to lower yourself down. That's 1 rep.
  • Do 10 to 12 reps.  
  • Rest for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat for 2 to 3 more rounds, resting 30 to 60 seconds between rounds.

2. Bent-Arm Plank Tuck

Add a tucking motion to your planks to target your lower abs more. The movement is small, but you'll feel the added challenge quickly.

Tip: If you don’t want to get on the floor, consider trying this exercise as an incline plank facing a wall or kitchen counter. 

How to do it: 

  • Lie on your stomach with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders, forearms flat on the floor, and legs extended behind you. Focus your eyes between your hands.
  • From here, lift your hips toward the ceiling until your body forms a straight line from head to ankles. Squeeze your glutes, brace your core as if you're about to be punched in the gut, and pinch your shoulder blades down and back so they're away from your ears.
  • Tuck your pelvis, thinking about bringing your pubic bone toward your nose. Hold for one to two counts, then untuck the pelvis and repeat.
  • Continue tucking and untucking, keeping the core and glutes engaged, for 30 seconds or as long as you can maintain good form.  
  • Rest for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat for 2 to 3 more rounds, resting 30 to 60 seconds between rounds.

3. Triceps Extension With Step Back

This exercise works your arms and legs at the same time while also training your balance. 

How to do it:  

  • Grab two light dumbbells (or other household object) and grip one in each hand. 
  • Stand tall with your chest up, feet about hip-width apart. 
  • From here, push your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a shallow squat. 
  • Tuck your elbows in at your sides and bend your elbows 90 degrees to bring the weights in front of your body, palms facing in. 
  • Keeping your elbows where they are, straighten both arms to engage the muscles in the backs of your arms (your triceps). 
  • At the same time, shift your weight onto your right foot and tap your left toes behind you. 
  • Return your foot to the starting position and bend your elbows to bring the weights back in front of your body. 
  • Continue alternating back toe taps as you do your triceps extensions for 30–60 seconds. 

Best Exercise for Boosting Energy: Bursts of Cardio Exercise  

Why: Cardio exercise (also known as aerobics) has a multitude of benefits, from a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk to stronger insulin resistance. And studies show even short cardio workouts can improve your mood and brainpower.  

A 2019 Neurology study observed adults ages 55 and over who were at risk for cognitive decline. Researchers found that participants showed significant improvements in memory by partaking in regular aerobic exercise. Other studies have made connections between aerobic exercise and an increased output of serotonin, a brain chemical responsible for joy. have made connections between aerobic exercise and an increased output of serotonin, a brain chemical responsible for joy. 

Here's a short circuit that you can do anytime you need a quick mood lift. Set yourself up near a wall or sturdy piece of furniture for support, if needed.

Perform each exercise for 40 seconds. Rest for 20 seconds, then move immediately into the next exercise. Repeat the circuit 2 to 3 more times.

1. Low Jacks With Arms Overhead 

How to do it: 

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  • Stand tall with your head and chest up, and your feet about hip-width apart. 
  • Raise your elbows about chest height and reach them behind you slightly to engage your back. 
  • From here, keep your elbows lifted as you extend your hands overhead (or out in front of you). 
  • At the same time, tap your right foot out to the side. 
  • Return to your starting position. 
  • Continue to reach your hands up and down (or forward and back) as your alternate toe taps out to the side for 40 seconds. 

2. Standing Knee Driver

How to do it: 

  • Stand tall with your feet about hip-width apart and your arms bend at about a 90-degree angle at your sides. 
  • Shift your weight onto your right foot and hinge at the hips to bring your upper body forward slightly. 
  • Keeping your chest up, step back with your left foot to tap your toes on the floor behind you. 
  • Then drive your left knee forward in front of you. 
  • Continue bringing your left foot back and then driving your left knee forward. 
  • Once you’re comfortable, pump your arms back and forth at the same time. 
  • When half of the 40 second time interval is complete, switch sides to do standing knee drivers on your right side. 

3. Alternating Toe Taps with Knee Lifts

How to do it: 

  • Stand tall with your head and chest up, and your arms bent at your sides. 
  • Feel free to place a hand on a wall or sturdy chair for support, if needed. 
  • Shift your weight to your right foot and tap your left foot’s toes on the ground in front of you, then lift your left knee. 
  • Return your left foot back to the starting position, shift your weight onto that foot, and tap your right toes to the front, followed with a knee lift. 
  • Continue alternating your front toe taps and knee lifts while you pump your arms for 40 seconds. 

4. Step Out and In with Calf Raise 

How to do it: 

  • Stand tall with your feet about hip-width apart and your arms at your sides, palms facing in. 
  • Bend your elbows to bring your hands near your shoulders. 
  • From here, step your right foot out to the side as far as is comfortable and push your hips back slightly to lower into a shallow squat. 
  • At the same time, straighten your arms. 
  • Push through your right heel to step your right foot back in and bend your elbows to return to your starting position, then immediately add a calf raise with both legs. 
  • Continue alternating side to side for 40 seconds. 

See our sources: 

Health benefits of exercise: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

What makes individuals stick to an exercise routine: Frontiers in Psychology 

Effectiveness of tai chi exercises for older adults: Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research 

What are compound movements: Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 

Role of cardio exercise in lowering heart disease risk and strengthening insulin resistance: World Journal of Cardiology 

Memory benefits of regular cardio exercise: Neurology 

Affects of exercise on mood: Brain Plasticity 

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