Low-impact Workouts for Seniors
Here are eight recommended low-impact workouts that could benefit anyone—though they are particularly ideal for older adults.
Some effects of aging are obvious—like wrinkles, or losing the elasticity of skin. But other health changes as we age are silent, and unfortunately, it’s usually these silent changes that tend to be the most dangerous.
In a recent study, Harvard scientists analyzed 34 years of data and revealed five habits that, if adopted even during middle age, boosted a woman’s lifespan by 14 extra years and a man’s lifespan by 12. One of those factors? Regular exercise for 30 minutes or more a day.
As a senior, not all types exercise are good options, but there are a variety of low-impact activities that can help you get that exercise you need without causing additional damage. Try these eight low-impact exercises.
This stretch is done on your hands and knees (although if you can’t get onto your knees, it is possible to do it sitting), and because of that it helps strengthen your arm and leg muscles. It also improves your spine mobility.
Start the exercise by kneeling down and putting your hands directly underneath your shoulders with arms stretched out and your knees directly underneath your hips. Keep your back straight. Then, round your back and pull your bum under, causing curve in your spine. Hold that for ten seconds, then slowly release. Watch this video demo of cat-camel stretches that are good for your back.
Nothing is more gentle on your joints than taking a water aerobics class. It’s a great workout that won’t jostle you around. It can be a fun, invigorating activity to maintain cardiovascular endurance and tone muscles in a more moderate way.
Raise your leg out in front of you and stand on one foot for 30 seconds, then switch to the other foot. You can do this for a few rotations in a two-minute tooth brushing session. Make sure you hold onto something at first if your balance feels unsteady. In time, balancing will become easier.
Squats and reaching
With your feet hip distance apart, put your arms out in front of you. Then squat down as if you are going to sit (but make sure your knees don’t bend past your toes). As you squat, reach the right hand toward the left and rotate your body a little to the left. This strengthens your legs and core.
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that can be a gentle, balancing exercise. There are various levels, but practice along with this eight-minute video for beginners. This is a wonderful exercise to do both indoors or outdoors.
With your hands on your hips and your feet hip-width apart, step forward on one leg. As you do so, bend both your knees until the front thigh is parallel to the floor and the lower leg is bent 90 degrees. Walk around the room doing this.
You can use any stairs or low chair to do this. Step up on the first stair with one leg. Lift the other leg off the floor, but don’t step with it yet. Hold the position with the floating leg for a few counts, then put it back down and step down with the other leg.
Take a daily walk
Slow down and take a 30-minute walk around the block. It’s a little thing that makes an important difference. Grab a friend or your spouse and take a stroll through the neighborhood.
There’s no reason to let aging or painful joints slow you down. Even these simple, low-impact workouts can make a big difference.
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