Low Impact Exercises

It's important for everyone to stay active, no matter how old they are. For people over 50, it can be especially hard to find ways to get some exercise without putting too much strain on their muscles and joints. If your old workout routine isn't working for you anymore, don't give up on staying fit!

There are plenty of exercises you can do that can improve your cardiovascular health, help you lose weight, and give you better muscle tone and strength. The staff at Resurgens Orthopaedics has prepared this list with a few of our favorite low-impact exercises. Talk with your doctor to find out if they can work for you!

Walking

It may not seem like much, but walking more can have a big impact on your overall health. When compared to a sedentary lifestyle, the effect is especially pronounced. Walking at a brisk pace for at least 30 minutes can actually burn from 200 to 600 calories per hour while also building muscle tone, increasing bone density, strengthening joints, and improving balance. The American Diabetes Association has said that walking regularly lowers your blood sugar, lessening your risk for diabetes. A number of university studies have shown that walking also lowers blood pressure, and the New England Journal of Medicine published a study that says a 30-minute walk 5 days per week can actually decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 30 percent!

Swimming

Jumping in the water does more than just cool you off; it can also be a great way for people over 50 to get some low-impact exercise! When you exercise in the water, it relieves pressure on the bones and joints while also providing gentle resistance. Exercising in the pool can also help to reduce edema because of the hydrostatic pressure the water provides on your body. Performing activities like swimming and water aerobics provides many of the same benefits as walking, including improving cardiovascular health, toning the muscles, and burning calories (not to mention they're lots of fun). Exercising in the pool can also help to reduce edema because of the hydrostatic pressure the water provides on your body. If you don't have your own swimming pool, check with your local community center, YMCA, or even a college or university.

Colleen Butler, our Covington Rehabilitation Manager says: "Your body wants to move! Joints lose mobility during the aging process and simple additions to your exercise routine offer a major impact on joint health. In Physical Therapy we frequently recommend water aerobics to our patients. The classes at our local Parks and Recreation Department swimming pool offer a structured (and FUN) lively group setting with music and well qualified instructors. Overall benefits to the body are similar to walking but activities in the water may be better tolerated by the over 50 population that may be dealing with other medical conditions, arthritic joints, or obesity."

Yoga

Strength and cardiovascular health aren't the only components of physical fitness; flexibility is also crucial, especially for people over 50. The more you flex your muscles and joints, the easier it will be for you to move around, and the less likely it is that you'll receive serious injuries as the result of a fall or other accident. The improvement in flexibility can have an impact in decreasing lower back pain.Activities like yoga, stretching, tai chi, and Pilates can all be excellent ways to work on your flexibility, and because they're so low-impact, many people can continue doing them well into their golden years. If you're interested in trying out some yoga or other flexibility training, look for a class in your area that's geared towards people over 50.

If you're over 50 and you're looking for low-impact ways to stay fit, the activities listed above are a good start. In Physical Therapy we like to say "motion is lotion" for your joints. Low impact activities are a great start to maintaining optimal joint health.

Just make sure you speak to your doctor before starting any type of fitness routine (no matter what age you are) to ensure that you're healthy enough for the activity you've chosen. They may be able to recommend specific exercises or stretches and may even be able to help you find classes to get you started. Check with your insurance to see if they offer programs that will pay for gym memberships or the Silver Sneakers exercise classes. No matter how you do it, remember to make some time for physical fitness in your golden years, even if it's just a 30-minute walk every day!