Want to age well? These Low-Impact Exercises Will Build Total Body Strength and Mobility 

Low-impact exercises
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Want to age well? Add these low-impact exercises to your workout routine to build total body strength, mobility, and lean muscle mass.

If want to age well, there are certain exercises for seniors that can help you in many ways. Truthfully, the anti-aging benefits achieved through regular exercise are seemingly endless.

In this article, we will take a look at the major benefits of exercising later in life and outline low-impack exercises any senior can safely perform.

The Health Benefits of Exercise for Older Adults

Low impact exercises benefits

If I were to list every benefit exercise affords seniors, I’d have to write a novel. Exercise helps every system of the body in some way, and even just a small amount of light or moderate-intensity work can go a very long way.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the major benefits of exercise for seniors.

Exercise Leads to Independence In Old Age

One of the most jarring and difficult changes in old age is the loss of independence. Sometimes, it may be necessary for an older adult to get some extra help with basic chores, getting groceries, or even self-care.

Through exercise, however, seniors can maximize their independence and reduce the need for assistance later in life.

Exercise Improves Balance for Older Adults

A four-letter word that no senior wants to think about is F-A-L-L. Falls in one’s senior years often lead to devastating outcomes such as broken bones and permanent disability. 

Through appropriate balance exercises for seniors, older adults can reduce their chances of experiencing a fall.

Regular Exercise Increases Energy Levels

If you’ve ever felt like you just don’t have the energy for exercise (or even get through the day) you’re not alone. Decreased energy is a major problem later in life. It may seem counterintuitive at first glance, but exercise can greatly increase energy levels.

By strengthening the heart and making the muscles work more efficiently, you’ll feel less tired from your usual daily tasks.

Exercise Helps Prevent and Treat Disease

Diseases affecting the heart, lungs, kidneys, GI system, and many other areas all respond well to exercise. By exercising, you strengthen these systems and greatly reduce the chance of developing a devastating disease.

Regular Exercise Improves Brain Function

A big fear that many people have concerning old age is that of memory loss. 

Luckily, studies have shown that regular exercise improves brain function and can reduce the risk of developing cognitive disorders such as dementia.

The Best Low-Impact Exercises for Seniors

Joint-friendly exercises for seniors

In the following section, I will outline some of the best exercises for seniors. These exercises will increase strength, balance, and flexibility. Let’s take a look!

1. Aquatic Exercise

By swimming, or even simply walking/exercising in the water, you’ll effectively decompress your joints. In doing so, you’ll be better able to achieve a full, pain-free range of motion.

Furthermore, water provides resistance in every direction, making it easy to work tons of different muscles at the same time.

By simply treading water for a few minutes, you’ll burn loads of calories while working nearly every muscle in your body.

2. Bodyweight Squats

Bodyweight Squats

Squats are one of the best functional strengthening exercises in existence. 

This move improves the stability of the legs and core. Even better, simply adding weight to the exercise can make it much harder and serves as a perfect progression as time goes by.

How to Perform:

  • Stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
  • Slowly lower your hips down toward the ground, as if you are sitting in a chair.
  • Next, contract your glutes and quads as you rise back into standing. 
  • Repeat for 10 repetitions per set, 3 sets per session, 3 sessions per week.

3. Seated Machine Row

This is a great exercise for building pure strength in the back and biceps muscles. These muscle groups are key for overall health.

How to Perform:

  • Sit on the rowing machine with a straight back.
  • Select a weight that you believe you can reasonably pull for at least 10 reps.
  • Grasp the handles and pull them towards your ribs, aiming to pinch your shoulder blades together.
  • Return to the starting position to complete the rep.
  • Complete 10-12 reps for 2-3 sets, 1-2 times a week.

4. Lat Pulldown

The lat pulldown is an excellent way to improve overhead mobility as well as back and biceps strength.

How to Perform:

  • Sit on the machine with a straight back.
  • Select a weight that you believe you can reasonably pull for at least 10 reps.
  • Grasp the bar and pull it down toward your chest, leaning back slightly.
  • Slowly return the bar to the starting position to complete the rep.
  • Complete 10-12 reps for 2-3 sets, 1-2 times a week.

5. Planks

Planks

Planks are one of the best low-impact exercises there is.

This isometric exercise works your core and abs without putting pressure on your joint. By slowly increasing your hold time on planks, you’ll slowly but surely increase your strength and endurance in your core.

How to Perform:

  • Start on your forearms and toes, with your back flat as a board.
  • Ensure that your spine is completely straight and not bending upward or downward.
  • Hold this position for as long as you can (aim for 30 seconds to start) and perform 3 sets per day, 2-3 times per week.

6. Glute Bridges

Glute Bridges: low-impact exercises

The glutes are powerful muscles that power most of our lower body movements. By working these muscles, we can vastly increase our lower body strength and power.

How to Perform:

  • Lie flat on your back, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Press down through your heels, lifting your buttocks off of the ground.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds, complete 10-12 reps per set, for 2-3 sets per session, 2-3 times per week.

7. Swiss Ball Crunches

Low impact exercises Swiss Ball Crunches

This is one of the simplest exercises on the list, but sometimes: simpler is better! Coincidentally, it’s also one of the best core exercises for seniors.

How to Perform:

  • Lie with your back firmly on the ball.
  • Perform a crunch by bending your trunk upward.
  • Slowly lower yourself back down to complete the rep.
  • Complete 10-12 reps for 2-3 sets, 1-2 times a week.

Summary

There are tons of benefits to exercising as a senior. It improves balance, brain function, and many other body processes. If you’re over 60 and aren’t sure where to start with your exercise program, give the above workout a try!  Add these low-impact exercises to your workout routine.

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Bennett Richardson, DPT, PT, CSCS

Bennett Richardson is a physical therapist and writer out of Pittsburgh, PA. He has maintained certification as a strength and conditioning coach (CSCS) since 2014. He then went on to earn a BS in exercise science and a doctorate degree in physical therapy, both from Slippery Rock University. In his free time, Bennett likes to read and exercise.

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