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What are  the benefits of low-impact exercise for seniors?

Why Exercise?

Virtually everyone knows the value of regular exercise as we grow older. Even if you’ve been a jogger or a marathoner or a professional athlete, there comes a time when the body appreciates exercise that is not so damaging. Our bones, joints and muscles will be happier if we engage in regular exercise that is easier on them than jogging, weight-lifting or vigorous exercise machines. If you’re over sixty you need to check out some form of low-impact exercise to replace the more strenuous workouts of your youth. Here are four low-impact exercises, each having a lot of variety within them. And, if one of these four doesn’t interest you, there are many more ways to get a good workout without damaging your muscles, joints and bones with high-impact forms of exercise. Why not give one of them a try?

For those of you who are confirmed couch potatoes, let me remind you of the benefits of regular exercise. First of all, a mild exercise routine of only thirty minutes five times a week will help manage your weight. You’ll have more energy and feel better as well. Those who choose not to exercise lose lean body mass, in fact between the ages of 50 and 80 it’s possible to lose from 30-40% of lean body mass, which is very detrimental to overall ability to stay healthy as we age. Lean body mass supports joints, maintains bone density and provides strength needed for daily active living.

If you have lived a mostly sedentary life, you will need to begin your exercise routine slowly and carefully.  This online guide for grandparents, suggests a little bit of regular exercise will pay off in quick results. See your doctor and find an exercise program just right for you. There are so many choices and they can be fun and enjoyable at the same time you’re improving your health.

Try Swimming

Swimming is an ideal exercise for seniors. It tones and strengthens the body in a totally supported way. Swimming allows the body to move without bearing weight. Swimming is a great preventative for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and many other debilitating health problems. It can relieve chronic pain. And should you already have these conditions, you can work with your doctor to plan a swimming routine that will help you minimize the effects of the disease.

Swimming will improve breathing, flexibility and balance, will use up calories to build lean muscle mass, will reduce stress, and will improve posture and bone health. There are a variety of swimming activities that may encourage you to get started. If you’re a poor swimmer, take a class in the basics. Or, there are many water exercise programs that are not true swimming, but take place in a pool and walk you through structured exercise programs in the water. Try a little water zumba or aqua yoga. You’ll have a great time and improve your health in short order.

Try Walking

Here’s the good news about walking. It’s free and it’s easy. Walking for thirty minutes three to five days a week will improve your health in many ways. Walking reduces blood sugar, reduces body fat and lowers blood pressure. It will improve bone density and keep your system regular. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes and perhaps an umbrella if you need to walk in the rain. Walking also has psychological benefits. It will feel good and lift your spirits to be out of doors in a pretty setting. Regular walking has been shown to significantly reduce your chance of having a heart attack or stroke.

While thirty minutes is a good walking goal, you may break that time up into ten minute bits if necessary. If you have a treadmill you can hop on for a ten or fifteen minute walk in between all of the other tasks awaiting you. You can walk for thirty minutes while watching your favorite game show, or put on headphones and listen to good music to get your feet moving. Walking is low impact exercise and it’s good for you.

Try Yoga

Many seniors suffer from multiple chronic conditions and find it difficult to engage in any physical exercise without exacerbating the pain and discomfort. Yoga may be the answer for you. Yoga’s relaxation and breathing techniques have been proven to enhance the quality and length of sleep for seniors who partake in it. Yoga also helps to reduce chronic pain in joints and muscles. Reduced blood pressure is also a benefit of regular participation in yoga exercises. Flexibility and range of motion will increase as basic yoga poses and exercises are done over time.

There are a variety of levels of yoga instruction available for seniors. Often the beginning classes are modified for seniors and you may find classes entitled “senior yoga” or “gentle yoga.”

Try Dance

All of the wonderful benefits of low-impact exercise mentioned above also apply to dancing. And in addition, dancing is a lot of fun. The social aspect of dance adds to the physical benefits to offer the best of both worlds. And the variety! You can choose from Latin salsa or rumba or even the latest craze… Zumba! Or go back to old favorites: classic ballroom dance with its graceful waltzes and fox trots or try square dance or round dance. Some may enjoy folk dances from various cultures. No matter the style or the music associated with it, dancing is good for the soul and the body.

Check out the links below to read more about low-impact exercises for seniors.


Gentle Yoga

Walking for Health