Low-Impact Exercises for Seniors

Health, Home & Family
on March 6, 2012

As people age, they tend to slow down and exert less effort in regular activities, including exercise. That’s why it’s important to maintain physical fitness even after you’re old enough to join AARP.

For a long, healthy and productive life, seniors should engage in regular physical activity to keep muscles strong and joints from becoming rigid.

“Arthritis-appropriate physical activity helps reduce the risk of developing other health problems, and helps manage the disease. No matter your ability level, you can engage in activity to help fight arthritis pain and symptoms,” says Dr. Patience White, vice president of public health for the Arthritis Foundation.

Here are some exercises to help you get or stay fit, and burn calories.

Walking. Going for a daily walk is perhaps the easiest and most accessible way to exercise on a consistent basis. Walking allows you to get mobile without too much exertion or stress to the joints. It’s a natural activity for enjoying the outdoors while interacting with a walking partner.

Swimming. A plunge in the pool is another way to engage all major muscle groups and get a cardiovascular workout without severe wear and tear on the joints. Swimming can be both challenging and relaxing, and aquatic exercise programs often are offered at health clubs with pools.

Cycling. Pedaling a few miles can provide another effective and joint-friendly aerobic workout, whether riding outdoors or on a stationary bike. Cycling exercises thigh, buttocks and stomach muscles, and its pulmonary benefits include increased stamina.

Classes. Some people prefer structure when it comes to exercise, and attending a scheduled class can promote accountability and regularity. Yoga or t’ai chi class can help to maintain flexibility, increase strength and lower stress.