Low-impact exercise has now become very necessary for senior citizens for its multifold benefits. They are advantageous for senior citizens since they are easy on the joints and maintain mobility. As you age, exercise becomes even more crucial, but if you have arthritis or other age-related diseases that may have limited your mobility, low-impact exercises can be the best option for you.
Low-impact exercises can help you stay active, protect your health, and keep your joints from wearing down too much while putting little to no stress on them. In other words, there is no pain involved. Here is all the information you need to know about low-impact workouts for seniors, their advantages, and the best ones to attempt.
What is the Low-Impact Exercise Process?
The amount of force applied to your body by an activity determines whether it has a low or high impact. According to Emily Johnson, owner of StrongerU Senior Fitness, “low-impact activities are ones that don’t exert a major load on your joints.” You’re less likely to feel pressure or soreness in your ankles or knees because your feet aren’t hammering the ground with each step.
Although the majority of us probably think of walking when we think of low-impact exercise, there are many more possibilities. Water aerobics, swimming, using an elliptical machine, biking, yoga, and even a number of strength-training exercises all fit the bill. On the other side, high-impact activities like running, plyometrics, basketball, or skiing involve a lot of jumping or pounding.
Low-impact exercises may be easier on the body, but that doesn’t mean they are easier or less demanding.
K. Aleisha Fetters, a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), personal trainer, and author of Fitness Hacks Over 50 says that people often think that low-impact exercise must also be low-intensity. Exercise with little impact can be done at any intensity.
For example, walking is a low-impact exercise no matter how fast you do it, but you can make it harder by walking faster up a hill. Although it does not require jumping or pounding your joints on the ground, it can be a challenging workout if you lift heavier, do more reps, and rest little to no between sets.
Low-impact activities are great for older people because they make it less likely that they will get hurt and put less stress on their joints, but they still have many health benefits.
Five Advantages of Low-Intensity Exercise for Seniors
Being active every day has many benefits, particularly for those who are in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond. Additionally, sticking to activities that put the least amount of strain on your joints can help you get the greatest results. Here are a few of the main arguments in favor of low-impact exercise for older people.
1. They Prevent Weight Gain Associated with Aging
With age, the pounds seem to go up a little more quickly. Exercise can help improve your body’s composition by making you burn more calories and keeping more lean muscle mass. Starting in our 30s, we tend to lose muscle, which is a big part of what determines our resting metabolic rate, or how many calories we burn each day while doing nothing.
The secret is to exercise frequently. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans say that you should do at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of moderately intense aerobic activity and at least two sessions of strength training each week.
The National Institute on Aging says that older people should work out at least three times a week. Because low-impact exercises are less likely to result in soreness or injuries that could keep you from being active for days or even weeks, maintaining an active lifestyle may be easier if you continue with them.
2. Low-Incidence Exercises Let You Do More of What You Enjoy
Maintaining your fitness level makes it simpler to engage in daily activities, both those that you must do and those that you like. Exercise is essential, whether you’re playing on the floor with your grandchildren, hiking in the woods, dancing, or just ascending the stairs with ease.
However, it doesn’t follow that you must complete a marathon. Daily tasks can be simplified with the use of low-impact workouts like walking and functional strength and balance techniques.
A February 2020 study that was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that daily walking programs that incorporate strength and balance exercises are linked to fewer problems among older persons who were considered to be relatively fragile.
3. They support The Risk Of Falling And Getting Injured
Slips and trips can be avoided by doing low-impact exercises like lunges and planks that improve balance, coordination, and strength in the lower body. If your shin muscles weaken, you’re more likely to stumble, and you run the danger of stumbling when you walk over rugs or other changes in the floor.
Research supports this: In October 2016, the British Journal of Sports Medicine published the results of a meta-analysis of 88 studies that found that older people who train their balance often are less likely to fall. 39% fewer people fell when they worked on their balance at least three hours a week as part of their exercise routine.
4. Low-Intensity Workouts Can Reduce Aches and Pains
Activities with low impact have the added benefit of being less likely to aggravate existing aching or creaky joints than exercises with high impact. That may be especially true if you have osteoarthritis. The Arthritis Foundation says that osteoarthritis usually starts around age 50 and is caused by the breakdown of the cartilage between your bones.
Workouts like mild strengthening, swimming, biking, and walking all help reduce joint stiffness. It’s due to the fact that performing low-impact workouts like these keeps your muscles strong to support your joints, lowering the strain on them.
5. They Maintain Strong Bones
According to the American Council on Exercise, sedentary lifestyles, lower calcium and vitamin D levels, and hormonal changes lead to less robust bones as you age (ACE). Several low-impact activities, on the other hand, can help with your resistance.
In a 14-year study of almost 77,000 women after menopause, a study published in JAMA Network Open in October 2019 found that regular walking was linked to a much lower risk of hip fractures.
It’s important to make sure your low-impact activity incorporates some weight-bearing, which means it must be performed on land while resisting the pull of gravity. Walking is one of the best ways to put weight on your bones, but swimming and other water sports are not. If you work out in the water as your main form of exercise, make sure you work out on land at least twice a week.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, strength training using your own body weight, resistance bands, equipment, dumbbells, and kettlebells are other excellent ways to prepare your bones to support more weight and make them stronger and more resilient. Wolff’s law states that, although it may seem contradictory, when you place stress on your bones, it actually forces bone cells to rebuild themselves to withstand the further strain.
Six Important Safety Exercise Advice for Seniors
Making safety a major focus can assist senior citizens avoid injuring themselves while exercising. Physical activity can help older persons maintain good mental and physical health. To find out how senior citizens can exercise safely, keep reading.
1. Comply with directions
To lower the danger of injuries and strains, it could be necessary to modify workouts for your older parent. However, completely changing the movement can give rise to safety concerns, When making adjustments to suggested workouts, speak with your loved one’s doctor first so you can determine which motions are safe for them and which ones could raise their risk of injury. Your loved one can exercise safely at home with the assistance of a qualified caregiver.
Caregiving for an elderly loved one can occasionally become too much for some families. Fortunately, they can rely on qualified respite care. Caregivers are on hand to help elders with bathing, transportation, medicine reminders, exercise, and much more, giving families the time they need to concentrate on other crucial duties or just take a break.
2. Don’t Go For Excess
The regimen your loved one adopts should be difficult, but it shouldn’t be overly demanding. Your loved one may strain a muscle or break a bone if they push themselves too hard. Your parent should be aware of the limitations of or her body and make an effort to respect them. If your loved one ever feels overworked, think about reducing the workouts until they are ready to be increased in intensity.
3. Put On the Right Equipment
Shoes that are too small, loose-fitting clothing, and tight exercise gear all have the potential to be dangerous. For instance, your loved one might strain their muscles when moving if their clothes are excessively tight. The likelihood of falling and fracturing a bone or suffering a head injury may increase if his or her shoes don’t fit. If your parent exercises at home or goes on walks, jog, or bicycle rides in the neighborhood, they should dress appropriately.
4. Proper Warm-Up
Before exercising exercise, warming up and stretching helps lower the likelihood of experiencing muscular discomfort. Your loved one will enhance body temperature and blood flow to the muscles throughout the warmup. Additionally, it would be beneficial if your parent took some time to relax after working out.
5. Be Alert To Your Environment
Your parent should always be aware of their surroundings when exercising in order to maximize safety. An elderly person with eyesight or hearing impairments should avoid exercising alone or without another healthy adult present.
A caregiver can assist your loved one in preventing collisions with objects and falls, which are severe safety risks brought on by memory loss, cognitive decline, impaired eyesight, and hearing loss. Seniors may want help and attention at home for a number of varied reasons. Due to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, some may require routine mental stimulation, but others may merely require sporadic help with exercise and simple domestic chores.
6. Keep hydrated.
Seniors may experience safety hazards due to dehydration at any time, but exercise is particularly risky. Lack of water and other necessary fluids might cause your loved one to feel weak, have headaches, and have muscle cramps. When exercising, your loved one should drink enough of water to avoid fainting and low blood pressure.
Not all seniors require the same level of care, thus they don’t all require the same kind of in-home care service. Comprehensive Balanced Care Method helps seniors focus on good lifestyle habits including eating well, exercising often, and keeping strong social relationships, while Cognitive Therapeutics Method provides mentally stimulating activities to slow cognitive loss and delay dementia.
Some other benefits of low-intensity exercise for everyone, not just older adults
According to the National Institute on Aging, older persons should try to mix aerobic, strength, flexibility, and balance exercises. And there are lots of low-impact exercises that are suitable for both inexperienced and seasoned exercisers.
This is one of the easiest things you can do as you get older to keep your heart healthy and keep your mobility. Start with a slow stroll and then pick up the pace or use Nordic walking poles to make it more challenging. When you use the poles, your upper body and stomach work harder, and you tend to walk faster.
2. Swim or do water exercises
Consider swimming laps, strolling on the water, or enrolling in a group fitness class (after it is safe to do so again). These are as close to zero gravity as you’ll find on Earth. They are perfect if you struggle with on-land activities due to osteoarthritis or other joint problems.
3. Advertising Cycling
Pedaling increases endurance while strengthening the legs. If you’re concerned about your balance or want to exercise at home, use a stationary bike or convert your current road bike to a stationary bike. Your core will be worked by using it to support your weight. It is advised against “dumping” your upper-body weight onto the handlebars.
4. Lightweight training for strength
Exercises involving body weight, such as push-ups and dog walks, resistance bands, and weight lifting are all effective. avoiding any strengthening exercises that require jumping or catching large objects.
Pick a weight where you can do 8 to 12 repetitions, but the last 2 or 3 repetitions are hard if you want to add resistance.
5. Tai chi and yoga
Both can help you stay flexible and protect your range of motion, which is important if you have arthritis. Tai chi is often considered a low-intensity exercise, making it ideal for beginners. Yoga can be practiced at different levels of intensity. If you are new to yoga, you should begin slowly so that you don’t end up with too much stretching. Yoga is a Vedic system that takes care of your body and your mind as a whole.
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