By Laura Hatch Photo Source: https://Pixabay.com/photos
Exercise is essential to maintaining good health, but it can seem daunting as we age. Fortunately, there are many ways to exercise without hurting yourself. Whether you’ve worked out throughout your life or want to get started, low-impact exercise is a great way to get fit.
Low-impact exercise is just that: exercise that doesn’t impact your joints. It’s easier on your body and allows you to stay healthy with a lower risk of injury. This kind of exercise has many benefits as we age. These include boosted brain health, reduced risk of falling, more energy, and disease prevention. Experts recommend 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity for seniors. Here are a few low-impact ideas to include in your exercise routine.
Putting one foot in front of the other is an ideal way for seniors to stay active. Walking outside gives you the mood-boosting benefits of exercise and being in nature. It’s easy, requires no equipment, and can increase strength, balance, and flexibility. During Arizona’s warmer months, beat the heat by walking early in the morning or late evening. And remember to bring water.
Yes, gardening is a form of exercise involving bending and reaching. Being outdoors and digging in the dirt can also make you happier. You can make it easier with a gardening stool or raised garden beds. Consider starting a small garden with desert willow and other native plants that will thrive without much pruning or watering in Arizona’s climate.
This low-impact, sweat-free favorite is terrific for people with arthritis and joint pain. The water keeps you cool, and its buoyancy reduces stress on joints. Water also offers natural resistance, so you don’t need to use weights (although you can add them for more toning).
Swimming is another way to stay fit without putting undue stress on your body. It’s a full-body workout and a great way to add cardio. Been a while since you’ve been in the water? Consider taking a class to brush up on your skills.
Chair yoga offers all of traditional yoga’s stretching, flexibility, and relaxation benefits. If mobility is an issue for you, this is an excellent option because you don’t need to get to the floor or sit up without support.
The slow, gentle movements of Tai Chi are perfect for seniors, even those with health concerns. This ancient Chinese practice improves physical and mental health with its meditative qualities. Best of all, you don’t need a lot of strength, coordination, or equipment to get started.
Even with its inherent risks, riding a bike is a good way for seniors to get moving and maintain some autonomy. The low-impact motion is easy on your joints and strengthens muscles that help with balance. It’s also a good cardio workout and can help you maintain a healthy weight.
You can get moving with low-impact exercise, no matter your age or ability level. Even a few minutes a day can help you feel better, stay healthier, and improve your quality of life.
Laura Hatch is a journalist who spends her free time hiking with her father, husband and three sons. The toughest part of her hikes isn’t keeping up with her kids, but rather keeping up with her dad.