It’s no secret that staying active in some form will have a positive impact on your overall health. It can reduce your chances of developing serious health problems as well as the overall cost of personal healthcare, especially in older Americans. However, you want to make sure the exercises you’re doing are safe and won’t cause injury. If you’re over 50, consider doing low-impact exercises to stay fit and active as you grow older.
The Importance of Staying Active
Daily exercise helps you stay healthy no matter what stage of life you are in, but sticking to a regular exercise routine over 50 has huge benefits. It can help with brain function so that you’ll think more clearly. Those who keep up the habit of daily exercise usually live longer, are healthier and even feel happier. The more you are able to move, the longer you’ll be able to live independently in your later years.
Staying fit as you grow older will help lower the cost of your healthcare and life insurance as well. Women who practice strength training are less likely to experience muscle and bone loss, which is common over the age of 50.
But that doesn’t mean you have to risk hurting yourself when you exercise. There are plenty of low-impact exercises that will keep you in shape without causing pain. Unless you’re a trained athlete you can’t just go into a gym and do the same exercises someone who is 20 is doing. If you’re looking to find the best low-impact exercise for you, here are 11 you may want to consider.
1. Low-impact aerobic exercise
Aerobics are important even if you’re a Baby Boomer over 50. It is also one of the easiest types of exercise to fit into your day-to-day schedule. Low-impact aerobic exercise encompasses a wide range of activities, such as hiking, gardening, and just simply walking daily.
To get started with aerobic exercise, you can begin with just five minutes per day. Then, gradually work your way up to 30 minutes.
2. Balance and flexibility practices
Performing balance and flexibility exercises is extremely important for older individuals. Working on your balance will help you reduce your chances of falling, something that can be very serious for people over 50. Flexibility can help you get up quickly if you were to fall. You can practice balance and flexibility in two ways.
First, there is the chair stand. To use this method of improving balance, all you need is an armless chair. Sit in the chair and spread out your arms parallel to the floor. Without moving your arms, stand up and sit back down. Do this 10 to 15 times each day to help improve your balance.
Another method is called the “toe stand.” To do this, you’ll also need a chair. Stand behind it and hold on to the back. Then simply rise onto your toes, holding the position for a few seconds, then slowly lower yourself back onto your heels. These simple exercises can make a world of difference in improving your balance. Balance and flexibility can also be improved by several other activities on this list.
Bowling is a popular and fun activity that any age group can enjoy. It’s also a fun way to get out of the house to socialize with friends. But, as with any sport, it can be dangerous if you aren’t careful. If your bowling ball is too heavy it can cause muscle and joint pain in your arm. But that doesn’t mean you should stop doing it especially if you enjoy it. Just make adjustments, starting with the ball.
When you are choosing a bowling ball, swing your arm back and forth with it a few times before to test out the weight. If you feel the slightest bit of pain, you probably need a lighter ball. Making sure you use the correct ball weight can help you prevent injury so you can continue to enjoy this fun way of staying active.
4. Counting Steps
As technology like FitBit and other wearables become more popular and more widely available, you can use them to stay active later in life. Many 50+ communities have groups that help one another stay in shape by challenging each other to a certain number of steps every day.
Joining such a challenge gives you the incentive to walk more and stay active. It’s also a good way to stay connected with other people in your community, which can be key to staying both physically and mentally active later in life.
Cycling is a little more intense but is still a relatively low-impact activity. You can choose to bike outdoors or in the gym. Riding outdoors provides the additional perk of fresh air and sunshine, while indoor cycling is a more easily controlled workout with less chance of injury. If you choose to ride outdoors, be sure you are alert and paying attention to any cars or other people around you. Make sure to always wear a helmet.
Spin classes are increasingly popular these days. A cycling or spin class provides a place where an instructor can help you better optimize cycling as an aerobic exercise.
If spinning isn’t for you, try using some of the other machines in the gym instead. The elliptical can provide you with the same benefits of running without putting stress on your back and knees.
Keep in mind, if you haven’t ever used the elliptical before it’s always a good idea to ask someone in the gym for assistance. It’s easy to hurt yourself if you don’t know how to use a machine, even on low-impact equipment like the elliptical.
Golf has always been a popular sport that older people enjoy to stay active. In addition to it being an effective low-impact exercise, it’s something you can do year-round if you live in a temperate climate. Even during the winter, you can go outside and enjoy a game of golf.
Try walking the course instead of using a golf cart for even more good low-impact exercise. Practicing your swing is a good way to work your arm muscles as well. Not to mention, you’ll reap the benefits of being outside in the fresh air.
Pilates is an excellent low-impact exercise to strengthen your core muscles. It will also help alleviate back pain and cut down on the risk of you hurting your back. While it was initially designed for people who do ballet, it can be used to help people ages 50 and up to build core strength and prevent back injuries.
Additionally, pilates can provide a place for you to meet other people and socialize. This just makes it yet another fun way to stay active later in life.
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9. Strength and Resistance Training
As you get older, your muscles lose elasticity. Strength training with light weights helps you improve your bone and muscle health, balance, and range of motion. However, weight training isn’t the best option for everyone.
Some individuals may find it easier and have better results with resistance training. Oftentimes, this includes the same motions without weights and each can be modified if you have physical limitations. This is done by using resistance bands or resistance machines instead of free weights. In some cases, you may only need to use your bodyweight.
10. Tai Chi
Tai Chi sounds more intimidating than it is. While it is a type of martial arts, you aren’t fighting or kicking as you may imagine. Instead, the exercise uses slow movements and focuses on breathing and balance.
This type of exercise will help improve your posture, assist with mobility, flexibility, and balance, as well as improve your day-to-day concentration. Like other group exercises on the list, it also provides another way for you to socialize and get out of your house.
11. Water Aerobics
Last, but certainly not least, is swimming and water aerobics. Many people over the age of 50 find that it is easier to move around and work out in the water. Water aerobics decreases the impact on your joints while providing the same benefits of other aerobic exercises. When you swim, you use almost all of your body’s muscles all at once.
These are 11 of the best low-impact exercises you can use to stay active as you age without hurting yourself. It is important to alter your activities based on your physical needs and each of these exercises can provide you with different benefits. Consider incorporating one (or more) into your routine.