By Ryan Collins Photo by Freepik
Staying active is important for a healthy life, no matter how old you are. But as we age, keeping physically fit is more of a challenge, especially if your mobility is somewhat limited. Refreshing sleep, a balanced diet, and low impact exercises let you keep your mind fresh and body moving.
Here are some effective low impact exercises that are safe for seniors.
Wake up lazy muscles by moving your arms and legs. Tai chi is a low-impact exercise routine of 19 movements and one pose you can do every day. Benefits of Tai Chi for seniors include:
- Promotes deep breathing to increase lung power
- Reduces stress
- Eases arthritis and joint pain
- Improves balance
- Strengthens leg and arm muscles
- Enhances mental imagery, concentration, and focus
- Lowers blood pressure
You don’t need a fancy outdoor bike to go riding — an indoor cycler does the trick. Stationary bikes come in different types, sizes, and price ranges, but if you want something simple, consider a foldable exercise pedaler. Turn the TV on, sit in a chair, slip your feet through the straps, and start cycling.
Water Aerobics and Pool Walking
What helps achy muscles and stiff joints? Water. Low-impact water aerobics and swimming are excellent ways to get moving; they provide easy resistance to bones and muscles.
Pool walking strengthens leg muscles without adding more stress to your knees (get your arms under water to power them up, too).
If you don’t mind getting your hair wet, full-body swimming gets the blood circulating for an excellent cardio workout. (Dog paddling and breaststrokes are good ways to swim with your head above water). Add a kickboard or Styrofoam pool noodle to your routine for balance.
Yoga for seniors is geared for standing or sitting. Along with flexibility and balance, yoga improves breathing, reduces anxiety, and leads to better sleep. Simple types of yoga to consider are:
- Hatha (slow-paced sitting or standing poses)
- Lyengar (emphasis on proper form)
- Restorative (meditation)
- Yin (time-intensive held poses)
Chair yoga is best for those who cannot easily move up and down. Use a chair if you have balance or mobility troubles — it’s more comfortable to stretch and twist without having to get down on a floor mat.
Indoor exercise isn’t the only way to stay fit … fresh air awaits! Gardening is a low impact workout, and you’ll reap the benefits. Walking through your yard, digging in the dirt, and pulling weeds are exercises that you’ll hardly notice.
The great thing about Arizona’s climate is that it allows you to plant vegetables most of the year. Don’t overdo it! Hauling dirt and heavy bags of fertilizer could lead to a backache. If you stick to Arizona’s native wildflowers and succulents, you won’t have to spend hours weeding or fertilizing. These plants practically grow themselves.
Walk and Dance
Walking is an excellent way to keep moving. Why not invite a friend! Don a pair of comfortable shoes and a sun hat. Bring along a water bottle. If you cannot get outdoors for a brisk walk, an indoor track will do. You can even walk a path in your own home.
Put on your favorite tunes … dance, stretch, and sway to the music. Move at your own pace and feel the rhythm when creating a routine. With eight beats to every musical measure, breathe evenly by counting every beat.
Before Exercising …
Check with your doctor about the best types of movement for your body, especially if you have balance concerns, lingering injuries, or a back problem. Twisting and turning may not be the best thing for you. The best exercise regimen starts with a plan, warmup, and common sense.
Nutrition and fitness are Ryan Collins’ two big passions … make it three, if you count the World Cup. Oh, yeah, then there’s sleeping in on Sunday, too.