Along with a balanced diet, a supportive social circle and purpose-driven activities, exercise is one of the cornerstones of happy, healthy living for seniors. Regular exercise can help reduce stress, maintain blood pressure, strengthen your immune system and keep you feeling balanced and vivacious. The benefits of exercise are varied and well-documented, with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommending a daily regimen for older adults that includes a mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities
The only catch, however, is that many exercises can be hard on your joints, requiring your body to take a bit of a pounding. Think of running on pavement, contact sports, and jump rope, as examples. These may be all well and good when you are in your 20s, but for older adults, a more low-impact approach is preferable. To that end, here are four low-impact exercises that you can fit into your daily schedule.
Swimming is a terrific way to get in some aerobic exercise without putting undue stress on your joints. Try a water aerobics class, aqua jogging or simply swim some laps. Not only can swimming be a low-impact form of exercise, but many people also find it calming, and, for those concerned with hurting themselves, there is a very low risk of injury attached to the activity.
This ancient practice combines stretching, strength training, cardio and meditation, all in a single, low-impact class. There are different levels of yoga, and well as different types – some are geared more toward fat-burning and dynamic cardio, while others are more ruminative, focusing more on the meditative aspects of the practice. For older adults, it is recommended that you start at a beginner level, and see from there whether you want to try a new level or type.
This is the quintessential sport of retirees everywhere, and for good reason! When it is done without (or partially supplemented by) a golf cart, the sport is a wonderful excuse to get in a daily walk around nature. Not only that, but it is a great way to socialize, as well as focus on a hobby. Remember to stretch before you hit the course, though: the swinging motion can be hard on stiff muscles.
Finally, you can try the Chinese martial art known as Tai Chi, which involves making slow, deliberate movements meant to stimulate the senses and increase balance and flexibility. Studies have also shown that Tai Chi is effective in protecting seniors against falls. If you are recovering from injury, surgery or an accident, before attempting tai chi, it is best to consult with an in-home physiotherapist, who will know which exercises are best for your situation.
Regular, daily exercise can increase health and happiness in older adults, but it should be undertaken with care. Try these four low-impact exercises, and if you have questions or concerns, consult with an in-home physiotherapist.