It’s no secret that exercise is essential to long-term health — especially for those of us over 40. Staying physically active allows you to build strength and maintain joint health well into your “golden years”. And low impact exercises can be a key component to enjoying lifelong fitness.
The workouts that worked for you at one stage of life don’t necessarily work best for you in others. High-impact activities that once felt great can put undue stress on healthy joints. This can sometimes lead to pain, or even injury.
The good news is there are plenty of low impact exercises to keep your muscles and joints feeling great at any age.
What Are Low Impact Exercises?
Low impact exercises use gentle, fluid movements. In fact, only 20 minutes a day of low impact exercise, 3 days a week, can help maintain bone density in older adults as effectively as high-impact exercise.1
But that doesn’t mean low impact exercises are always easy!
You can still build strength and enjoy a rigorous cardio workout using low impact exercises. Here are 10 great low impact exercises you can work into your personal training routine.
Swimming is a great physical activity for anyone at any age, but especially for older adults. It works your arms, legs, and core without the joint pain that can come from more high-impact exercises. Water helps cushion stress on the joints, while providing extra resistance to get your muscles working hard.
According to some studies, it’s one of the most effective ways to reduce body weight and increase muscular strength.2 And if you’re a runner who wants to take some stress off the knees, you can try deep water running for a great, pain-free aerobic workout.
You don’t have to be a contortionist to reap the many benefits of yoga. You can easily personalize the frequency and intensity of your practice to suit your needs.
A regular yoga practice can help:
- Enhance flexibility
- Strengthen your muscles
- Improve heart and lung health
Studies have shown that it may even help to boost your mood!3
While it shares a lot in common with yoga, pilates is very much its own routine. Pilates emphasizes your core muscles, building strength and stability. It may also help to improve coordination and posture.4
Also, if you’re trying to improve cardiovascular fitness, Pilates is a great alternative to aerobic exercise.5
4. Tai Chi
Like yoga, tai chi has been around for a very long time. And like yoga, it uses fluid movements that can have both physical and mental health benefits.6
Tai chi is comparable to other low impact exercises in improving:
- Cardiovascular health
- Upper and lower body strength7
5. Elliptical Machines
The elliptical trainer is great for people with balance or coordination issues. It’s also an efficient way to build and maintain lean muscle mass.8 You can get a great workout using smooth, controlled movements that are easier on the knees.
TRX workouts are a form of sling training. You use only your own body weight and smooth, controlled motions
With TRX, you control the intensity of your workout by changing the angle and position of your body. This allows you to build strength in several different muscle groups.9 And you can modify almost any exercise to find what is most comfortable for you.
7. Indoor Cycling — Spin it to Win it!
You’ve probably heard a lot about spinning. It’s just another name for indoor cycling. The smooth, sustained motion of your legs gives you a great cardio workout without the joint pain. You control your level of intensity.
And if upright cycling still puts too much stress on your knees, you can always switch to a recumbent bike.10
8. Stand Up Paddleboarding
If you’re near a body of water, stand up paddleboarding can be a great outdoor activity. Studies have shown that stand up paddleboarding can help improve both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. It also strengthens your core muscles.11
9. Step Aerobics
If you like working out to a beat, step aerobics may be just the activity for you. For a true low impact experience, keep the step lower to the floor. Step aerobics helps increase balance, flexibility, cardiorespiratory fitness, and arm and leg strength.12
It almost seems too easy: walking is an activity most people do all the time. But a daily, brisk walk, over time, isn’t just great for the legs. Studies have shown that walking can increase aerobic capacity and may even help lower cholesterol.13
Find What Low Impact Exercises Works For You
The most important thing with any workout routine is consistency. Exercises that mitigate issues like joint pain will help motivate you to keep going. It may take some trial and error, but you can find a workout routine that suits you.
And remember: these exercises may be low impact, but they can still have huge benefits on your health!
Aging Hack: Can Lifting Weights Help You To Live Longer?
Study Shows That Joint Health Can Affect Your Heart
18 Ways To Boost Your Longevity