Purpose Statement

With the low rates of physical activity for people aged 65 and older and the numerous health benefits of physical activity, we wanted to provide the opportunity to engage in the required amount of physical activity (150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week) for free, at a local YMCA.

The goal of the progam was to:

  1. Maximize adherence to the exercise class.
  2. Maximize participation in physical activity up to (or beyond) the recommended 150 minutes of moderate/vigorous intensity physical activity per week.

Within this program we aimed to:

  1. Provide safe and convenient group exercise classes.
  2. Foster social connections that will assist in program maintenance.


Instructor Resources

How to design your classes

Step-by-Step Class

1. Establish safety protocol
2. Start by marching in place
3. Reintroduce yourself and any assistants
4. Ensure participants are in position
5. Ask participants to point to any injuries
    a.REMIND participants that they are always to go at the right pace for their own bodies
6. Begin cardio
    a. Incorporate stretches after the first warm-up song
7. 2-3 more cardio songs
8. Cardio and stretching ~ 20 minutes total (~4 songs)
9. Water break (5 minutes)
10. Standing weights (10 minutes ~2 songs)
11. Mat work (15 minutes ~3 songs)
12. Stretches (10 minutes ~2 songs)

Tips for Modification: 

Try to exercise your larger body parts and muscles (such as your forearms and elbows) instead of smaller ones (such as your wrist, fingers, and hands).
Don't exercise to the point of discomfort. You want to feel a nice stretching sensation, not pain.
Pay attention to the signals your body sends you.
Decrease the intensity of your workouts if you feel joint pain or soreness.


Exercises to avoid:
       Exercises that involve loaded forward flexion of the spine such as abdominal sit-ups
       Exercises that increase the risk of falling
       Exercises that require sudden, forceful movement, unless introduced gradually as part of a progressive program
       Exercise that requires a forceful twisting motion, such as a golf swing, unless the person is accustomed to such movements.


Joint replacement
Ask participants to talk to you before or after class about their joint replacement
Ask participants to speak with their care provider about modifications
Warning signs of blood clots. The warning signs of possible blood clot in your leg include:
       Pain in your calf and leg that is unrelated to your incision
       Tenderness or redness of your calf
       Swelling of your thigh, calf, ankle, or foot
Warning signs of pulmonary embolism. The warning signs that a blood clot has traveled to your lung include:
       Sudden shortness of breath
       Sudden onset of chest pain
       Localized chest pain with coughing

[American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons]

Balance issues
Ask participants if they need a chair to hold onto during exercises
Modify all balance exercises by not lifting foot off the floor (see: http://goal.kin.educ.ubc.ca/glossary/leg-swap)

Vision or hearing limitations
Microphones are provided if participants cannot hear you
Use hand signals for counts as well
Ask participants with visual limitations to stand closer to the front of the classroom

Cognitive impairments
Please direct participants to the website for audio,visual and written exercise instructions
If a participant does not have access to the Internet but would like written instructions, the research team can print this for participants

Loneliness or isolation
Encourage participants to exchange phone numbers
As an instructor try to engage with all participants equally
If a participant confides in you regarding isolation, please direct them to a health care professional

Socio-economic considerations
Ask participants to volunteer to bring homemade snacks or bring fruit
Encourage participants to carpool, walk, and use public transit for commuting to classes

Helpful Links

Adaptive Exercise Videos from the International Council on Active Aging:


Fall Prevention:


Exercise Recommendations

CSEP Recommendations (CA) [PDF link]:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USA):