Low-Impact Exercise Ideas for Seniors
No matter your age, exercise is a key ingredient to a healthy lifestyle. Even if you’ve never exercised before, it’s never too late to begin!
Regular exercise has proven to stave off a number of medical conditions, including osteoporosis and arthritis. Even a mild workout helps build strong bones and reduces joint pain and swelling. Even better? Consistent exercise lowers blood pressure, improves your immune system, and leads to better balance and flexibility. Researchers at Ball State University found seniors who keep moving, see health benefits that make their hearts look decades younger.
Does that mean you have to train for the Olympics? Of course not! Don't think of it as a "workout, but rather a chance to get out and play. You may enjoy yourself and the physical, emotional, and cognitive benefits you reap from exercising.
Activities to Get You Moving
Swimming or Water Aerobics
Swimming or water aerobics are great ways to get your heart rate up without any negative forces or impacts on your body. According to swimming.org, there are multiple benefits from exercising in the pool:
- Water supports the body, putting less stress on your joints and muscles.
- Working out in water helps build strength. As you fight against the push of the water, you activate your muscles.
- Water pressure puts less strain on your heart by moving blood around the body.
- The impact of gravity is less in the water, allowing a greater range of motion.
- Working out in water helps prevent overheating, helping you exercise for longer.
- It’s fun! That’s not something you can say about every workout.
Even walking a few blocks can get the blood flowing and get your muscles to feel good! Experts have long touted the benefits of this most-basic form of exercise
According to experts, walking:
- Strengthens your muscles.
- Helps keep your weight steady.
- Lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, colon cancer, and other ailments.
- Helps reduce blood pressure in some people with hypertension.
- Improves your balance and coordination, and decreases your likelihood of falling.
- Keeps your joints flexible.
- Increases your confidence and mood, and help you feel better.
- Improve your energy levels.
- Reduces anxiety and depression.
- Improves your social life — walking is a great way to get out and meet people or socialize with your friends.
But the benefits of regular and walking don’t end there. Experts across the world agree that walking is a great way for you to stay active and reap a host of health benefits.
You might not immediately think about gardening as exercise. That's the best part! You bend, lift, and move without even realizing you're working out. If you live in a warmer climate, such as Texas, you can garden year-round. If the bending is too much for you, consider a raised garden to make it easier to tend to your plants. Choosing native flowers and plants will also make your garden easy to maintain.
Cycling, Elliptical and Yoga
If you're athletically inclined, consider low-impact exercises like cycling, elliptical training, or Yoga. Each will get your heart pumping and blood circulating. These activities will also strengthen your cardiovascular system, in turn helping you look and feel better. All three help you learn to better maintain your balance, which is a critical function as we age.
Just 15 minutes a day of any one of these options will have you feeling like a spring chicken again in no time. Let’s get moving!
Connie Proctor, a former professional dancer, is now a physical therapist and yoga instructor who advocates for wellness for people of all abilities.