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Music to Get Moving with Seniors!

Moving is SO important as people age. No matter their current mobility challenges, it’s important to keep moving in whatever ways they can. The popular saying, “if you don’t use it, you lose it,” is very applicable here. As many people age, they become less and less active for various reasons. When this happens, their muscles, bones, and joints will weaken, which has many bad consequences. The good news is that it’s preventable. Just get moving!

If someone has trouble finding motivation for exercise, try adding in some music. Music can be hugely motivating for movement. If there was no music on when I went to the gym, I think I would turn around and go home. Not only is music motivating for movement, but it also can increase endurance and reduce perceived effort. Doing the exercises a physical therapist recommends might not be very fun and may be very challenging, but do them to the beat of a song and it can feel less like exercise and more like a dance!

Dancing is not only a fun activity, but is a great form of exercise. Many seniors grew up dancing and have many fond memories of doing so. Here are some songs that they might recognize and will get people of all ages wanting to get up and dance!

Hokey Pokey, Chicken Dance, The Twist

  • These are some songs you’ll hear at just about every wedding dance you go to because they’re fun for young and old!

Willie and the Hand Jive

  • I don’t know about you, but I first learned about the hand jive dance in the movie “Grease.” It wasn’t until recently that I learned it was an actual popular dance in the 1950’s that started in London. It’s very fast and a can be a little tricky for some, so I usually teach it to the seniors I work with at half-speed. Check out this video to learn how to do the hand jive and how I teach it to set everyone up for success.

Hula Songs

  • This is one of my favorites to do with seniors. Hula has such an interesting history and there’s a story behind each dance they do. Turn on some Hawaiian music or the “Blue Hawaii” Elvis album and learn some traditional hula moves. Here is a video of some traditional, symbolic hula dance moves. It’s not the highest quality, but it’s very helpful. My favorite is the palm tree!

Grand Old Flag

  • This one is perfect for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday. Do you have some little flags or scarves sitting around? Try thinking of different ways you can move with the flags or scarves and maybe even add in some marching to get the lower body moving as well!


  • This song is probably a little recent for many of our seniors to recognize, but that doesn’t mean they won’t love learning this fun dance

Land of 1000 Dances

  • This song mentions maybe not quite 1,000, but a whole bunch of different dances from throughout the years. Ask your seniors to see how many they can find in the song and see if they can demonstrate any of them!

Jump in the Line

  • You can’t help but want to move when you hear this song. It would be perfect for a conga line around your facility (with 6 feet between you of course)!

Let us know which ones are your favorite or if there are any songs that we forgot about. Check out the rest of our blog for music activities for all ages, from sing-along books to guided relaxation to making your own instrument, and most importantly…get moving and have fun!

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