For some, exercise is the fountain of youth. It can revitalize and energize us when we get it or it can bring our moods down, leaving us feeling lethargic, or even contribute to legitimate depression when we don’t get it. And for seniors, getting regular exercise can become more of a challenge simply because our bodies don’t want to cooperate. Injuries are easier to come across, joints aren’t as limber as they once were, and muscles stay stiff longer than they used to. For seniors facing this reality, here are 5 low impact exercises that can get you back on the path of leading a more active lifestyle.
This one’s easy and obvious. If you can walk, it’s probably the simplest form of exercise to take on because it requires no training, no planning, and isn’t strenuous. For seniors lucky enough to be able to walk continuously later in life, even just a good pair of shoes and some light stretching are all it takes to keep fresh for a regular walking routine. Attention to good posture is can also maximize the benefits of this exercise that can have very little impact on aging joints.
Swimming is another form of exercise that you can take at your own pace and this time, it has no impact on the joints at all. You’re literally floating in water, which makes it even lower impact than walking itself. Swimming is great exercise at any age and always remains a good way to build strength and endurance in our muscles, simultaneously stretching those muscles as well.
Yes, stretching is a form of exercise. Its main benefit is in improving flexibility and range of motion, which makes it a necessary starting point for any exercise routine if you’re building from scratch or rehabilitating. Our muscles naturally lose flexibility as we age, so even if you’re not engaged in a specific, regular exercise or training routine, a regular stretching routine is beneficial to us all. The National Institute on Aging suggests stretching your neck, shoulders, upper arms, upper body, chest, back, ankles, legs, hips, and calves regularly.
Yoga is not solely for the young and spry and you don’t have to be able to bend like a pretzel to start a regular yoga practice. Aside from being a practice that engages our mind, yoga is a low impact way to build strength, balance, and flexibility.
One key difference from other exercises on this list (and possible setback) is that yoga is something that should be practiced with the training and coaching of certified instructors, while many of these other exercises are simple tasks to take on by yourself.
Golf is a good one for the most competitive and disciplined of us. Former athletes and overachievers will love it, as it requires a great deal of work to master while remaining a sport that doesn’t require strenuous athletic activity. Yes, an entire day out in the sun can be tiring but there’s a reason the PGA has a senior tour with athletes competing well into their later years. Hale Irwin won three Champions Tour events in his 60s and Gary player was nearly 63 when he became the oldest PGA athlete to win an event.