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Healthy Geezer

Low-impact exercise is ideal for seniors

By Fred Cicetti | Jan 23, 2014

Q. I’ve got problems with several joints and I heard low-impact exercise is something I should try. What is low-impact, and can you suggest some exercises?

Warning: If you want to begin a new exercise program, you should consult your physician and request a list of exercises that are best for your age and physical condition. As you age, your body becomes less flexible and more vulnerable to injury. Low-impact exercise does not place excessive pressure on your body. There are many low-impact activities that can give you a good, relatively safe workout. The following are some low-impact exercises that you can review and discuss with your doctor. I put these in alphabetical order:

Cycling

Riding a bike gives you a substantial workout. I enjoy riding bike trails because I get to enjoy nature while getting low-impact exercise. I gave up riding on streets because there are too many dangers posed by cars and trucks. If you don’t want to ride outdoors, you can pedal a stationary bike indoors.

Golf

Golf is great for increasing flexibility and strength. Swinging a club is more exercise than it appears to be. If you can walk 18 holes with a hand cart, you are in great shape already. But riding the course with a golf cart will still have you walking more than you would think.

Swimming

Swimming poses very little injury risk. The water relieves the stress on your body. Swimming also is a whole-body exercise. There’s lots of strengthening and stretching while afloat. It’s great for your arms, legs, back and shoulders.

Tai Chi

In Asia, tai chi (tie-chee) is considered to be the most beneficial exercise for older people, because it is gentle and can be modified easily if a person has health limitations. A person doing tai chi progresses slowly and gracefully through a series of movements while breathing deeply and meditating. Tai chi relaxes and stimulates the body and mind. Tai chi has been called moving meditation.

Walking

Walking is one of the simplest and best low-impact exercises. All you need is a good pair of shoes or sneakers and a place to walk. On cold and rainy days, I see a lot of seniors walking around indoor malls. When you can, a beneficial exercise is leaving the car keys at home when you have to run an errand.

Water aerobics

Water aerobics is another exercise that can work the whole body. The concept behind this exercise is that everything you do is resisted by the water. This exercise is so popular among seniors that an iconic photo you see often is of a bunch of older people in a pool smiling.

Weight-lifting

You should begin doing your moves without weights. Then go to light weights. You can increase the weight amounts gradually. Getting a personal trainer for weight-lifting is a smart idea.

Yoga

Yoga practice includes physical postures that participants flow into and then hold before proceeding to the next posture. Yoga has been shown to help alleviate many of the health problems faced by older adults. In fact, the many benefits of yoga are supposed to combat the aging process. Yoga can help your balance, a serious concern for seniors.

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