Let’s face it—none of us are getting any younger. And while being active during your younger years can stave off some of the signs of aging, you might find as you get older that certain exercises start to hurt more than they help. Whether you’re nursing an injury or looking to add some gentler exercises into your workout regimen, these low-impact activities will keep you get fit regardless of your current age.
- Tai chi. This low impact form of martial arts is made up of slow, graceful movements and is great for those who used to enjoy karate or other high-impact martial arts. During a typical practice you’ll focus on connecting your breathing to your movements. Tai chi is considered a moderate aerobic activity and has been shown to strengthen muscles, improve coordination, ease pain and stiffness and improve cardio fitness. One of tai chi’s top benefits is improved balance, which is especially important to prevent falls as you age.
- Yoga. Yoga is a fantastic workout for those looking to supplement their weight lifting regimen or swap it out entirely. The most common type of yoga is called hatha yoga and emphasizes controlling your breath through a series of poses. Yoga can be as gentle or as challenging as you want it to be, which makes it suited for all fitness levels. Through yoga you’ll improve your strength, flexibility and balance while promoting focus and relaxation at the same time.
- Swimming. Lots of former runners find they get the same cardio benefits from lap swimming as they do from running—but with less stress on their knees. Swimming provides a full body workout that’s gentle on the joints because of its non-weight-bearing nature. Swimming can also help improve your bone density, lowering your risk for osteoporosis. Plus, many public pools offer discounted rates for swimmers over 65 and adult swim lessons.
- Walking. It seems simple enough, but walking is one of the best forms of exercise out there for senior citizens. Regular walking can improve cardiovascular health and aid in weight loss. Plus, a 2008 University of Georgia study found that regular walking reduced the risk of developing a physical disability by 41 percent in elderly adults. Walking is ultra-easy to take up because all you need to do is put on a pair of shoes and step out the door. It can also be a great social activity, allowing you to explore your neighborhood and chat with your neighbors along the way.
You don’t need to take up marathon running or other intense exercises to stay fit as you age. Check with your Medicare provider to see if they offer any additional gym and exercise benefits. As part of our Silver&Fit program, Priority Health Medicare Advantage members can receive two at-home fitness kits a year, which include DVDs and guides to various exercises including the ones mentioned above. You can stay active and healthy no matter your age, because, after all, aging doesn’t equal slowing down.