Aims and objectives: Promoting physical fitness of young–older adults is essential in reducing healthcare expenditures which would occur in the future for those with chronic health problems. The silver yoga exercise programme was developed to accommodate the reduced body flexibility experienced by many older adults and was critically reviewed by experts and pilot-tested with community-dwelling older adults. This study aimed to test older adults’ physical fitness after a 24-week silver yoga exercise programme and to examine whether the programme could be further shortened to fit senior activity centres’ programme designs. Design: A quasi-experimental, pre–post tests design was used: baseline, at 12-week and at 24-week periods. Methods: Convenience samples of 204 subjects were recruited from eight senior activity centres and 176 subjects completed the study. Subjects were randomly assigned into three groups based on the centres: (1) Experiment I: complete silver yoga with stretching and meditation, (2) Experiment II: shortened silver yoga without the guided-imagery meditation and (3) Wait-list control. The interventions were conducted three times per week for 24 weeks. Physical fitness indicators included body compositions, cardiovascular–respiratory functions, physical functions and the range of motion. Results: At the end of the 24-week period, the physical fitness of subjects in Experiments I and II had significantly improved whether or not guided-imagery meditation was used and all had better physical fitness than subjects in the control group (all p < 0·05). Conclusions: The physical fitness of older adults in both the 70-minute complete silver yoga group and the 55-minute shortened silver yoga group had significantly improved after the interventions. It was recommended that the silver yoga programme be shortened by eliminating the guided-imagery meditation. Relevance to clinical practice: The shortened silver yoga exercise programme is recommended to be incorporated as an activity programme in community-settings to promote the physical fitness of older adults.