Staying active to keep fit is just as vital for seniors as anyone. But now we need exercises with minimal effect on worn joints and tired muscles. Traditional workouts at the gym can be too much, but low impact exercises keep seniors fit, healthy, active, and balanced.
Muscles contract, shorten, and weaken while joints quietly wear away. Once active lifestyles decline into more sedentary ways of living for older adults with less flexibility and energy. However, gentle exercise a few times a week can actually counter these effects of aging.
Focused low impact activities done several times a week will keep you feeling, and looking young and vibrant. The examples I’ve listed below are especially helpful for seniors and can be done in social settings or alone.
There are plenty of ways to include physical activity without negatively impacting knees and hips — and yoga is one of the best for older people. Contrary to most of the pictures we see of people twisted up like pretzels, yoga focuses on very gentle stretches. Yoga works to lengthen and elongate muscles, tendons, and ligaments that have contracted over time.
The mild stretches from a yoga pose are helpful to build core strength and brings oxygen to every cell of your body. You will find your self with increased energy and a sense of well being after every session. Search the computer or ask around for a local group to learn and practice with. Buy books and DVDs with pictures, videos, and directions for a gentle workout to impact your lifestyle.
Stationary exercise bikes have a lot less impact on joints than regular bikes and are the perfect alternative for seniors. Get the ultimate cardio workout at home while you watch your favorite movie. Stationary bikes build heart health, help maintain weight, and build strength without risking damage to your knees, legs, or bones.
Use an upright bike with movable handlebars for a whole body workout, or a convenient folding bike to improve your lower body and circulation. Many seniors enjoy the added comfort of sitting in a seat with a backrest and opt for recumbent style bikes. Cardio with an exercise bike has much less impact on joints than street bikes or even walking.
To tell you the truth, I’m surprised at how few seniors are walking. Walking takes advantage of your own weight to strengthen, relieve arthritis pain, reduce stress and lift moods. Here’s what a 30-45 minute walk 3 or 4 times a week can do for you:
- Improve cardiovascular and lung fitness quickly
- Reduce the risk of strokes and heart disease
- Help with managing Cholesterol, triglycerides, arthritic knee and hip pain, muscle pain, stiffness, weight, and more
- Improve your balance
- Increase endurance (which means to hold out longer with less tiredness on a trip to the mall or amusement park with the grandchildren)
Walking is almost as low impact as it gets, takes no special equipment, and you can do it alone or with friends. People walk in their neighborhood, many parks around the country now have walking tracks, in the mall (for exercise, not shopping), and around large factories.
Keeping trunk and pelvic muscles strong is especially important for seniors. When these core muscles weaken, so does your ability to balance. Core strength comes from training the muscles in your lower back, hips, pelvis, and abdomen. Pilates focuses on core muscles, controlled breathing and movement of the body.
Pilates can look a lot like yoga poses, and serves many of the same purposes. According to research, you can see real improvements in your body and well being with only 10-15 minutes a day. As your core muscle strength increases you will see improvements in your balance, overall strength, and stability. Check out these videos to see how to do Pilates.
Swimming is so gentle on joints and muscles that it ranks as the most relaxing of exercises. Forget sweating it out on a gym floor or walking on a hot summer day. Get a terrific cardio workout while you stay cool with friends with no impact on joints at all.
Stay fit, firm and tone your entire body with no stress to joints or muscles. Low risk of any injuries with a total body workout. Like all cardio workouts, swimming improves circulation which leads to lower blood pressure and lesk risk of heart attack or stroke. If you have an available swimming pool check it out to reduce stress levels and get fit.
Mini Exercise Bikes
How low can you go? These machines are called under desk exercise equipment or mini bikes, and believe it or not, they can really impact your fitness levels. These machines are popular with people spending long hours at a desk as well as older adults who want better circulation while sitting in the den.
Visit this page reviewing several different types of under desk pedalers to get more information. You will see that there are models to be used on a tabletop as well as on the floor. They are very light so putting them on top of a table or desk lets you pedal with your hands to build and tone your arms.
Rowing machines are incredibly simple to use and are a great aerobic exercise. They help with weight loss, will increase your stamina, give you both an upper body and lower body workout at the same time — all without any type of jarring impact to knees.
The results of a rowing machine are fast and impressive. You will tone your arms, legs, back, and stomach muscles at the same time with this workout routine. They burn fat and provide a powerful cardio workout safely. In fact, if I were only going to invest in one piece of home gym equipment, it would definitely be a rowing machine.
Seniors need regular exercise to reduce the risk of diseases, improve moods, and maintain the ability to balance themselves. Ever known an older person who falls and doesn’t know why? It’s because with age the function of balance decreases unless we keep muscle mass strong and healthy.
Exercise also builds and maintains healthy bones, and wards off depression so common in older adults. We know how vital it is to our well being. But on the other hand, we need low impact activities that do not irritate and damage joints and muscles. Use any of the methods in this post, or just let them spur your imagination to find another one. But most importantly stay active and stay fit.