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Top 5 low-impact activities for aging gracefully

Enjoy all the benefits of exercise without the aching bones and joints with these 5 low-impact activities.

When it comes to slowing down the aging process, regular exercise is key. 

A study from the University of Birmingham showed that professional cyclists between ages 55 and 79 who had been cycling most of their lives showed no muscle deterioration as they aged. 

Their cholesterol levels stayed the same as they aged, as well as the amount of body fat they had. 

Although most of us aren’t professional bicyclists, exercise is a great way to keep our bodies fit and youthful.

But while some exercises can be fun and feel good now, they can also lead to sore joints and injuries in the future. 

High-impact activities like running, crunches and leg presses can cause serious injuries, like torn ACLs and damaged spinal discs. Other activities like upright rowing can lead to pain down the lithe angle at which it requires you to lift up pinches a tendon, which over time will become damaged. 

Low-impact activities are exercises that typically involve at least one of your feet in contact with the ground at all times. This weight dispersal allows for the rest of your body to come in contact with the ground or machine less forcibly.

They’re ideal for anyone with osteoporosis, aging adults, and pregnant women. It could be the key to keeping your bones and joints safe, while still improving your health and keeping your waistline down. 

Keeping your joints safe now could mean saving yourself the headache of high medical costs down the line. According to Forbes, about $40 billion dollars a year goes to the treatment of back injuries alone. 

Swimming

Swimming is a popular way to stay in shape as you age and is considered a low to no impact activity, as your body doesn’t come in contact with anything but water. 

It helps with coordination, aids in fat loss, helps the entire cardio system, and provides a nice full-body stretch.

It can even help prevent osteoporosis, thanks to its help in improving bone mass density. 

Since swimming doesn’t require pounding the pavement or other jolting movements, you get all the strengthening without excessive impact. And it’s a great way to give your hips, spine and knees a break from the wear of walking or jogging.

Yoga

Yoga has been providing mental and physical benefits to humans for around 5,000-10,000 years. 

It’s a combination of breathing techniques and body postures that help improve health in plenty of ways, such as:

  • Better mood: Yoga can help increase energy levels and release tension, making it a great mood booster. 
  • Diabetes prevention and treatment: Yoga can lower your blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
  • Flexibility: Stretching and strengthening through yoga helps lubricate the ligaments, joints and tendons.
  • Lower blood pressure: The breathing techniques used in yoga help improve blood flow and lower your blood pressure.

Biking

Looking for a low-impact cardio exercise safe for seniors? It may be time to take that bike in the back of your garage out for a spin.

Not only does biking get you outside (which is a mood-booster in-and-of-itself), but it’s a fun way to work your whole body. 

Since biking is an aerobic activity, it’s especially beneficial to your heart and lungs thanks to the sweating, increasing your body temperature, and increasing your cardio stamina. 

The stimulation it provides for your heart and lungs through improved circulation helps prevent cardiac disease, cancer, and other chronic illness.  

Shadowboxing

Shadowboxing is the low-impact alternative to sparring or regular boxing. 

It’s done by boxing with a visualization or your own shadow, providing a great cardio workout without force being applied to your wrists and arms. 

Try to utilize moves like dodging and footwork to help with balance and core-building. 

Shadowboxing regularly can burn calories, reduce fat, and help you build lean muscle. 

Kettlebell exercises

A kettlebell is a large ball-shaped weight with a handle. It’s used to enhance multiple types of workouts by adding extra resistance without increasing levels of impact. 

If you’re new to kettlebell training, it’s recommended not to use a kettlebell over 10 pounds when you first get started. 

These kettlebell exercises are great for beginners. They allow you to focus on form more than impact and intensity and will be a great way to ease into the world of the kettlebell. 

Single leg deadlift:

  1. Grab your kettlebell in the hand on the opposite side of the leg you plan to work on, lowering the arm to your side. 
  2. Slightly bend the leg opposite of the hand you’re holding your kettlebell.
  3. Extend your other leg behind you as you lower your upper body.
  4. Slowly bring the lifted leg back down.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

Rack lunge:

  1. Grasp your kettlebell handle palm up with the ball portion laying on the outside of your wrist. 
  2. Bend your arm to bring the kettlebell between your bicep and forearm. This is known as the “rack” position.
  3. Bending the leg opposite of the hand holding the kettlebell, extend your other leg back into a reverse lunge position. 
  4. Repeat on the opposite side. 

Try out these low-impact activities, then rest easy knowing you’re doing your future self a favor by keeping your body strong and your wallet full. 

 

Sources:

  1. https://citizen.co.za/lifestyle/fitness-and-health-your-life-your-life/1853083/why-exercise-is-the-key-to-slowing-the-aging-process/
  2. https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/news/latest/2018/03/regular-exercise-slows-down-ageing.aspx
  3. https://www.silversneakers.com/blog/worst-senior-exercises/
  4. https://www.silversneakers.com/blog/worst-senior-exercises/
  5. https://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/a2495/exercises-that-can-backfire-118541/
  6. https://www.sparkpeople.com/blog/blog.asp?post=fitness_defined_lowimpact_and_highimpact_exercises
  7. http://www.homecareassistancecolumbus.com/benefits-of-low-impact-exercises-for-seniors/
  8. http://www.toyourhealth.com/mpacms/tyh/article.php?id=1447
  9. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/five-easy-exercises-can-save-middle-age-aches-pains/
  10. http://www.ascseniorcare.com/swimming-for-seniors/
  11. http://www.ascseniorcare.com/swimming-for-seniors/
  12. http://www.yogabasics.com/learn/history-of-yoga/
  13. https://www.piedmont.org/living-better/yoga-low-impact-great-health-benefits
  14. https://www.orthosleeve.com/best-low-impact-fitness-activities/
  15. https://draxe.com/health-benefits-being-outdoors/
  16. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/cycling-health-benefits
  17. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/cycling-health-benefits
  18. https://caloriebee.com/workout-routines/Shadow-Boxing-Burn-Calories-Reduce-Fat-Gain-Lean-Muscle-And-Have-Fun
  19. https://caloriebee.com/workout-routines/Shadow-Boxing-Burn-Calories-Reduce-Fat-Gain-Lean-Muscle-And-Have-Fun
  20. https://caloriebee.com/workout-routines/Shadow-Boxing-Burn-Calories-Reduce-Fat-Gain-Lean-Muscle-And-Have-Fun
  21. https://www.performbetter.com/8-reasons-train-kettlebells
  22. https://www.verywellfit.com/getting-started-with-kettlebell-training-1231068
  23. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ggxoUsCx7A
  24. https://guardiandirect.com/resources/articles/5-most-common-sports-injuries-and-how-avoid-them
Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice.
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