Exercise is important to staying strong and healthy, no matter what your age. But, as you age, some of your favorite exercises, like running or weight lifting, may become too much for your joints to bear. Aging joints can become painful, and arthritis can intensify that pain. If you perform high-impact exercises like running or jumping on those joints, you’ll potentially only make the pain worse.
Instead, it’s important to seek out low-impact exercises that help to preserve your joint health and that still allow you to exercise in comfort. By building these exercises into your routine, you can stay active as a senior yet still enjoy the many benefits of exercise, like increased energy while reducing chronic pain and joint soreness.
As an added benefit, many of these low-impact exercises aren’t just helpful for joint health, but they’re also great choices if you suffer from other ailments like varicose veins. Many of the following exercises, like swimming, are particularly good for varicose veins because they help to avoid putting too much strain on those veins. Higher impact activities, like weight lifting and running, put increased strain on both your joins and veins, and should be avoided.
Walking is a great low-impact exercise, and it requires almost no equipment, aside from a pair of comfortable sneakers with good tread. Whether you have arthritis, injuries in your joints, or are overweight, walking is an accessible activity that you can take part in.
You can also walk almost anywhere. Consider walking around your yard, heading to a shopping plaza, or taking a walk in the woods with friends or family. You can even walk on a treadmill in your home when the weather outside isn’t cooperating. To get more out of your walk, focus on interval training where you walk faster for periods of time before taking a slower walking break to recover. Setting a treadmill so that you’re walking up an incline can also help you to burn more calories and get a better workout in, so long as you’re careful not to overdo it.
Swimming also offers low-impact exercise that can help to support your health. When you swim, you’re using almost your entire body, which can help to develop your core strength and your overall muscle tone and strength. Because swimming is an aerobic exercise, you’ll also develop the strength of both your heart and lungs with repeated exercise.
Swimming also offers unique benefits to your joint health. Because you’re not making contact with the ground, it’s a very low-impact exercise that doesn’t stress or strain your joints. When you swim, you’re immersed in water, so your body bears less of your weight — instead, your weight is supported by the water. This reduces the strain on your body, particularly your joints, so while you might not be able to hike or walk comfortably, you may be able to swim with minimal discomfort!
Outdoor Activities and Exercise
If you love spending time outdoors, there are many ways that you can enjoy low-impact exercise that keeps you in the sunshine and fresh air. Outdoor exercise activities like hiking or kayaking can be low-impact activities, yet still offer fabulous workouts. By changing the distance or intensity that you hike or kayak, you can customize these activities so that they’re suitable and enjoyable for you.
But these outdoor activities are about more than just exercise. In addition to getting in a workout, they provide you with an ideal opportunity to spend quality time with your friends and family in the beautiful, great outdoors. Spending time outdoors offers many health benefits, and it can help to lower your stress and blood pressure. Being outdoors can also boost your mood and support your mental health and overall well-being.
Getting the Most Out of Low-Impact Exercise
When you’re starting any of these exercises, talk with your doctor to make sure that they’re safe for you to participate in. Avoid adding in too much exercise too quickly, as well, since you’ll be sore, tired, and more likely to sustain an injury. Instead, add in new exercise gradually so that you can enjoy each activity safely.
Remember that you can always modify your exercise routine so that it suits your fitness level and overall comfort, as well. For instance, if you’re incorporating exercises like planks into your workout routine, you can make planks easier by doing them from a higher surface, like a chair. As you develop strength, you may decide to make the exercise more challenging by doing it from your knees, then eventually moving to the floor. If you ever feel like an exercise is too much for you, modify it or avoid doing it to help prevent potential injury.
If you’re exercising to lose weight but aren’t seeing any weight loss, there may be an unseen issue making it difficult for you to lose weight. For example, thyroid issues often cause weight gain, so consider visiting your doctor if exercising and eating well doesn’t result in weight loss.
By adopting low-impact senior exercises into your daily habits, you can support your health, prevent weight gain, and even stay more active as you age. Whether you prefer to exercise outdoors or enjoy being able to stay in the comfort of your own home, there are many ways that you can build or sustain your strength and stay healthy during your senior years.