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Low-impact Exercises For Seniors

Uncategorized | Senior Living Tips | Here For Myself

As we age, it’s important to keep our muscles strong and bodies moving. Regular exercise helps to improve balance, maintain energy levels and keep overall brain function sharp — all of which aid in making daily tasks and movements easier. Exercising as a senior can also help prevent common ailments like osteoporosis, heart disease and diabetes.

The below low-impact exercises are ideal for seniors looking to maintain or improve their overall fitness. 

Balance And Flexibility Exercises 

Older adults are at a higher risk of falling or pulling muscles, which is why balance and flexibility exercises are important to keep your body in alignment. If you’re able to take classes, yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates are excellent choices for seniors looking to maintain strength — especially if the classes are geared toward older adults. These workouts incorporate balance, flexibility and strength in a controlled, low-impact format.

Can’t make a class? Here are a few exercises and stretches that can improve flexibility and balance at home:

  • Quad Stretch: Grab a chair or table with your right hand. Slowly bend and lift your left leg behind you with your free hand, bringing your ankle as close to your glutes as possible while keeping your left knee as close to your right leg as you can. Stretch the quad for 30 seconds, then release and switch sides.
  • Leg Raises: While standing and using a chair or table for balance, raise one leg behind you until you feel a stretch. Hold the leg for 5 seconds before switching sides, then repeat with each leg out to the side. Be careful to build up slowly, starting with only one in each direction until your strength increases.
  • Arm Stretch: Cross one arm across your chest, making sure to keep it straight, and hug it in to stretch your shoulders. Switch after 30 seconds. 
  • Chest Stretch: Bring both arms behind your back and link your hands together. Stretch your shoulders back. If you need more of a stretch, lean slightly forward and lift your arms upward.
  • Chair Stands: Start with a stool or armless chair. Slowly sit down, then extend your arms straight out and stand carefully. The goal is to maintain balance without using support. Start with five, then build up slowly as standing gets easier.
  • Shoulder Rolls: This one is as easy as it sounds; stand up tall and gently roll your shoulders back 10 times, then reverse and roll forward 10 times.
  • Toe Lifts: Using a chair or counter for balance, plant your feet firmly on the ground, then lift your toes off the floor for 5 seconds, and release. Repeat 2-3 more times to stretch your calves and ankles. 

A senior male doing his morning stretches to help with balance and overall health.

Low-impact Cardio 

The American Heart Association recommends that inactive people gradually work up to exercising three to four times a week for 30-60 minutes at 50-80% of their maximum heart rate. 

Think cardio is only good for you if you are vigorously exercising? Think again. Seniors can also experience cardiovascular health benefits from low-impact cardio exercises. Moderate aerobic activity is great for getting your heart rate up and improving cardiorespiratory fitness. By participating in low-impact activities, you can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and even helps improve sleep and memory. 

Great low-impact cardio exercises for those over 65 are:

  • Walking briskly 
  • Swimming laps
  • Water aerobics
  • Using an elliptical or exercise bike on low resistance
  • Biking outdoors 
  • Ballroom dancing

For older adults who already experience stiffness, arthritis, or joint pain, low-impact water exercises or use of an elliptical or exercise bike can help reduce the body weight on joints and can reduce possible muscle strain. Low-impact cardio also reduces the risk of falling or irritating past injuries, which are two concerns seniors might have when considering starting a new workout plan.

A StoryPoint resident performing a low impact exercise with a care team member in the onsite community gym

Weight Training

Strong muscles are key for seniors who want to continue living independently. Lifting items like groceries can help to maintain strength, but dedicated weight training with light dumbbells and/or resistance bands can also go a long way toward strengthening your muscles.

As a starting point, seniors should use 1-5 lb. weights and resistance bands that offer light or medium resistance. Start lighter and slowly increase weight or resistance while doing exercises that include:

  • Bicep curls
  • Shoulder presses
  • Sidearm raises
  • Forward arm raises

Lifting too heavy of weights or jumping too quickly into a new program could result in injury. Seniors looking to kickstart a workout program should ask their health professionals which activities are best for their goals and personal capabilities.

Start (Or Continue!) Your Fitness Journey At StoryPoint

At StoryPoint, health and fitness are a priority, which is why we offer personal training and group fitness classes to help you age successfully and feel your fittest. Reach out to us at 1-855-407-8679 to discover our full range of health and fitness options.

Related: How Our Sleep Changes As We Age

Related: Tip For Reducing Inflammation For Seniors

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