Staying active is vital to longevity. Simple activities and exercises can boost physical and mental health, helping us feel good inside and out. But it can be hard to start and keep up a new habit, especially as a senior

Thankfully, Cogir Senior Living provides various fun activities promoting health and wellness. These energizing activities for seniors cater to seniors’ unique needs and are often done in a group setting, fostering community. 

In this blog, we uncover the key to vibrant and healthy aging through active senior programs. What exactly are active senior programs? What are some examples? What are their benefits, and what research supports their effectiveness? 

What is an Active Senior Program? Understanding the Concept

An active senior program is any recreational or social activity explicitly organized for seniors, promoting an active lifestyle. They’re basically activities for seniors that keep seniors active physically, mentally, and socially. 

Many senior homes host a wide variety of active senior programs. These can include senior workouts, sports, stretching exercises for seniors, day trips, learning programs, social clubs, games, and arts and crafts. Tabletop games like Domino and Mahjong can help with dexterity and get us out socializing, but they are not what you think of as exercise. 

Active senior programs mainly focus on fitness for seniors. Thankfully, these senior workouts don’t have to be high-intensity, rigorous strength training. Research shows that you only need 30 minutes of mild exercise a day. However, consistency is key to enjoying healthy results. 

One of the best ways to consistently keep up with a healthy habit is to do it with a group. That’s why senior living communities host group classes. You could follow a “yoga for seniors” exercise video alone, but that’s not nearly as fun as doing it with like-minded peers. 

Examples of Active Senior Programs: A Diverse Range of Activities

Every senior living community will have different offerings. So when you’re touring or researching independent senior living or senior assisted living, ask about their health programs. 

Cogir Senior Living partners with best-in-class agencies, such as Bayada and FOX Rehab, to provide enriching, active senior programs.  These agencies create and host a wide variety of fun activities, from yoga for seniors to seated Zumba to Balance in Action (a fall prevention exercise). They also assist residents recovering from surgery by providing individualized senior programs with physical, occupational, and speech-language therapists. 

A Cogir Senior Living Community offers countless activities for seniors. There are 

stretching exercises for seniors, chair yoga for seniors, senior pilates, core exercises for seniors, and tai chi for seniors, just to name a few. 

However, let’s focus on three specific active senior programs: Bowling with Betty, Line Dancing, and Boot Camp. 

Benefits of Active Senior Programs: Enhancing Quality of Life

Bowling with Betty

Bowling with Betty involves indoor carpet bowling and Betty, the therapy dog at Tribute at Black Hill in Germantown, MD. This exercise for seniors is similar to traditional bowling, but the balls are lighter, and it’s done on a short carpet. However, it provides many of the same benefits. Exercises like these improve joint flexibility and range of motion, decreasing joint stiffness and helping maintain the muscles around the joints. Of course, it also improves hand-eye coordination. 

There are also subtler benefits to these kinds of senior workouts. Betty, the therapy dog, occasionally acts as a “balance aid.” Seniors can lightly rest a hand on her back to help maintain stability. The presence of a therapy dog can also foster social connections as seniors bond over their shared affection for dogs.  

Light exercise for seniors enhances mental well-being by increasing confidence and self-esteem. They can then move on to more strenuous senior workouts with self-assurance. 

Line Dancing

Dancing is one of those fun activities with amazing health benefits. But what does the average dance class look like for someone enjoying a senior living community? 

Dance classes in independent senior living have a set schedule throughout the week. Let’s say Maria Riveria, a lover of all things Western, finally indulges her interest in dance. She’ll enter the dance studio and meet with the 20 to 30 other residents participating. 

The instructor will begin with a warm-up— gentle stretching exercises for seniors. For example, shoulder rotations and leg lifts help loosen up the body to prevent joint stiffness. Warm-ups last anywhere from 5-10 minutes. Trying something new involves a learning curve. Maria works up a sweat already but receives encouragement from fellow participants. 

Following the warm-up, the class enters into the main dance routine which acts as cardio fitness for seniors. They break down the choreography into easy-to-follow, low-impact dance moves. Maria enjoys support from her dance partner since this is all new for her. This routine keeps them moving for around 20-45 minutes, depending on the class length. 

The instructor ends the senior workout with a cool-down. This often includes stretching exercises for seniors. Cool-downs prevent dizziness and fainting by gradually lowering the heart rate. They also reduce muscle soreness, leaving Maria and her fellow dance mates refreshed and feeling good. 

A single senior living community may host several different types of dance classes, such as ballroom dancing or seat Zumba. However, they all offer the same benefits. Dance requires us to remember choreography in coordination with the music, helping with memory and visuospatial skills. Sometimes, dancers have to make quick decisions, which improves mental flexibility and processing speed. Dancing literally and figuratively helps us think on our toes. All of these factors stimulate multiple regions of the brain, improving mobility

Boot camp

Boot camp is not as hard as it sounds. It is another group exercise for seniors. Instead of focusing on one activity, it balances cardio and strength training through various exercises. 

The routine is similar to the dance class: start with a warm-up to prepare for the main senior workout. The meat of the class includes seated marking, jumping jacks, boxing, core exercises for seniors— various fun activities. However, participants use a combination of weights and resistance bands to build muscle. 

Out of all the senior workouts, this is probably one of the hardest because muscle decreases with age. However, boot camp is great fitness for seniors as it is very healthy for the heart. The muscles around the heart gradually weaken, but this kind of exercise for seniors directly combats that, helping them live independently. 

These three senior programs are just a sampling of what senior homes offer. For example, Tribute at One Loudoun hosts competitive chair volleyball, complete with team t-shirts and local tournaments. 

Supporting Research: Evidence of the Effectiveness of Active Senior Programs

Active senior programs help us maintain mobility, independence, and ability to accomplish daily living tasks. The National Institute on Aging agrees that consistently exercising can improve functional health. There is also evidence suggesting that lack of exercise can cause or worsen chronic diseases. In short, fitness for seniors has diverse benefits, ranging from the physical to the social. 

For example, exercising can directly combat feelings of depression. Senior workouts release endorphins and promote the production of serotonin. These neurochemicals play a complex role in our overall health, but the key takeaway is that they help regulate our mood. 

When exploring the senior workouts available at a senior living community, we mentioned how aerobics (like dance and carpet bowling) and stretching exercises for seniors can improve joint flexibility and range of motion

Perhaps the biggest benefit of group activities for seniors is socializing. Transitioning into a senior living community can feel like starting your social life over again. Active senior programs help keep our bodies and minds healthy, they help us feel good inside and out, and they help create a sense of community. One study focusing on group activities for seniors found that participants “felt socially connected and experienced a sense of security in the community through caring for others and supporting each other.” These senior workout groups fostered mutual support, helping them “improve or maintain their functional health and enjoy their lives.” 

In conclusion: There is an Active Senior Program for Everyone!

Active senior programs offer a host of holistic benefits: physical fitness, mental clarity, emotional regulation, and social engagement. These fun activities help seniors enjoy a higher quality of life and connect us with our communities. 

Whether it’s a dance class, boot camp, or yoga for seniors, there’s an active senior program suited for every interest and fitness level. Enjoy your golden years with a senior program that fits your lifestyle. If you’re curious about our active senior programs, contact us!

About Cogir Senior Living

What sets Cogir apart is the company’s devoted approach to creating healthy, vibrant communities that offer residents exceptional independent living, assisted living and memory care lifestyle options. Cogir Senior Living develops, owns and/or operates 64 lifestyle communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit