We all know the importance of exercising. It can help with everything from blood pressure, weight loss and muscle strength, to energy level, brain health and even balance. For some of us, though, exercising is also painful. Problems with our joints and backs can impair our mobility and make even simple movements difficult or impossible to perform.

Because May is National Physical Fitness and Sports month, we’d like to take this time to explore several low impact exercises for seniors that can help you reap the benefits of physical activity while reducing your risk of injury.

Remember to check with your doctor before trying any new exercises. Your doctor knows your medical history better than anyone else, and he or she may be able to suggest an exercise routine that takes into account any past injuries, illnesses or surgeries that could affect your ability to safely perform certain actions.

High Impact vs Low Impact Exercise

High impact exercises place considerable strain on your joints, and they put you at the greatest risk of physical injury. The most common examples of high impact exercises include running, jogging and jumping.

Low impact exercises, by comparison, are much easier on your joints and include activities like walking, cycling, yoga and swimming.

While both types of exercise can play an important role in your overall fitness, people with osteoporosis, arthritis or who are recovering from surgery are usually better suited for low-impact physical activities.

Yoga

It’s almost impossible to overstate the benefits of yoga. Practicing yoga regularly can strengthen core muscles, improve coordination and stability, and even help with your balance. All of these things are great benefits by themselves, but they can also help you reduce your risk of falling – a leading cause of injury among older adults. Yoga also encourages us to be more mindful of the present moment, which can reduce stress and anxiety.

Walking

The best thing about walking is that it’s a relatively easy exercise that doesn’t require much planning or equipment to do. You can do it at almost any age and at any time of year – provided you have access to an indoor space during the colder months. Walking builds endurance, it elevates your heart rate and it’s a great way to enjoy the great outdoors. The only thing you really need to get started is a pair of comfortable shoes.

Stretching

While it may not seem like much, the simple act of stretching has several important benefits. For example, if you notice a decline in your range of motion, stretching can help you improve blood flow and circulation while gently lengthening important muscle groups. Performed consistently over time, this basic activity can help reduce the risk of injury, making it safer and more comfortable for you to try exercises like walking and yoga.

Low Impact Exercise With High Impact Results

We understand the importance of physical activity for seniors, which is why we’re proud to offer the Jorgensen Plaza for Well-Being. Here, you’ll find our outpatient therapy program, the Grosse Aquatic and Wellness Center, a walking/jogging track and an exercise classroom where you can take a tai chi or yoga class.

If you’re interested in learning more about active living at Western Home Communities, fill out our form or give us a call at 319.277.2141 today. We can help answer your questions so you can make a more informed decision about your retirement.