10 Low-Impact Exercises for Seniors

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If you're entering your "senior" years, you might think this is the time to kick back and relax on the couch. Think again!

Exercise is important at every age. In particular, older adults can prevent many of the health problems that come with age through regular physical activity. For example, maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults 65 and older get at least 150 minutes of "moderate-intensity" activity (a brisk walk counts) or 75 minutes of "vigorous-intensity" activity (like running or hiking) every week.

That said, it's important to choose your exercise routine wisely. Seniors tend to have more delicate joints since cartilage becomes worn as you age. This can make high-impact exercises (like jogging) damaging. Knee pain? No thanks!

Opt for low-impact workouts instead. A fitting form of exercise is easy on the knees and ankles while still boosting cardiovascular health, muscle tone, balance, and coordination.

Here are some of the best low-impact exercises for seniors, with options suitable for every fitness level. Read on to find the perfect exercise program for you.

1. Cycling

Cycling is a low-impact exercise that allows you to work out major leg muscles, including the quadriceps and calves, without putting a lot of pressure on your ankles and knees. Cycling also promotes good cardiovascular health. Plus, it's a super versatile exercise.

You can opt for a stationary bike if you feel more comfortable riding indoors. If you like to get out in nature, a mountain or fat tire bike — which has fatter tires than a road bike — might be best. A recumbent bike is a great pick if a traditional bike seat isn't comfortable for you.

An electric bike is another option. E-bikes have a motor that powers them forward even when you aren't pedaling vigorously. This can make for an easier ride and help you enjoy longer workouts, since you can engage the motor if you get tired. This assistance also makes e-bikes great for people with arthritic knees.

Velotric offers e-bikes to suit different riding styles. The Discover 1 with a 500W motor is a great pick if you like city riding. The Nomad 1 has a 750W motor and fat tires for added stability, perfect for exploring the great outdoors.

2. Walking

Getting a workout in doesn't have to be complicated. A brisk walk is a great way to get your heart rate pumping without stressing your knees. Plus, it's a low-intensity activity you can easily do with a loved one, chatting as you go. This can make the workout more enjoyable, which will keep you motivated.

Use a step counter to assess your activity level and make the most of your walking exercise. Additionally, make it a full-body workout by swinging your arms as you go. You can even carry small dumbbells to build muscle in your arms. Finally, consider taking a walk in nature, as this is shown to be good for your mental health.

3. Tai chi

Tai chi involves slowly shifting the body through a series of physical postures and gentle movements that don't place a lot of stress on joints. Gently holding and moving between these positions exercises muscles, improves balance, and enhances coordination. Tai chi is also shown to reduce stress and anxiety.

If you're new to tai chi, consider finding a class in your area. Alternatively, you can try one of many videos on YouTube. For people with poor balance, consider turning tai chi into a chair exercise. This guide to seated tai chi movements can help you get started.

4. Water aerobics

Water aerobics (also known as aquafit) involves going through various physical movements in a body of water, like a pool. It can include cardio exercises like jogging in the water, as well as muscle-building exercises using dumbbells. Dance-like movements, body twists, and leg kicks can enhance range of motion and balance.

Water aerobics is a great low-impact exercise thanks to the added buoyancy that water creates. Your body weight is lower in water, meaning your knees and ankles don't have to carry as much. Plus, the water creates added resistance, so you get more of a workout as you "push" through it.

5. Pilates

Pilates involves going through a series of repetitive exercises designed to improve flexibility, strength, and stability. Complete these exercises with equipment known as a reformer or on a yoga mat. Pilates doesn't place a lot of impact on joints, since you’ll do many moves on the floor and don't have to carry your weight.

It's best to consult a Pilates instructor if you're interested in trying it. They can ensure that you're practicing proper form, minimizing the risk of potential injury. Senior-friendly Pilates programs are designed for the unique needs of older bodies.

6. Suspension training

Suspension training is a type of strength training that uses a system of webbing and ropes (known as a suspension trainer) to build muscle using your own body weight. You might also see it referred to as TRX training, which is a brand of suspension training equipment.

This is a great way to build flexibility, core strength, balance, and head-to-toe muscle. Since you aren't adding weight and only using your own body weight, it's also easy on the joints. That said, you’ll need a gym with suspension training equipment and instruction if you want to take advantage of this exercise.

7. Yoga

Yoga involves moving your body through a series of physical stances and poses designed to enhance strength, balance, flexibility, and coordination. There are many different types of yoga, including Ashtanga, Hatha, Kundalini, Vinyasa, and hot yoga. This guide explains the differences.

You can also find yoga designed for seniors, which embraces slow and gentle poses that won't stress joints. In addition to offering a physical workout, yoga is also shown to support good mental health. The breathing exercises it involves can create a meditative state, reducing stress and anxiety.

8. Swimming

Like aquafit, swimming is a great low-impact activity because it takes place in water. This improves buoyancy, puts less weight on joints, and increases resistance. Swimming is also versatile, giving you a variety of strokes (from a low-effort breaststroke to a high-intensity butterfly stroke).

Another benefit of swimming is that it's a full-body exercise. You'll use the muscles in your arms, legs, and core when you swim. It can also be strenuous, boosting cardio health. That said, swimming requires access to a pool or open water source. It's not the kind of thing you can do from home (unless your pool is designed for swimming laps). You can check with places like your local YMCA to see what they have for pool availability.

9. Lifting weights

Weightlifting can be used to build strength in the core, arms, back, and legs. This added muscle tone can help relieve strain on joints. For example, you won't have to put as much stress on your knees if you build up your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles.

Research also shows that lifting weights can protect against chronic inflammation and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. As people get older, osteoporosis can cause bones to become brittle and weak, increasing the odds of breakage. If you're new to lifting, consult a professional trainer to ensure your form is correct.

10. Golf

Golf doesn't involve intense physical activity like running or jumping. However, it does demand a lot of walking, making it a great low-impact exercise for seniors. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to get outside into the fresh air.

That said, golf may not be a great option if you live in an area where the weather tends to be cold or rainy for most of the year. Additionally, golf can be an expensive and time-consuming hobby. You have to pay for golf equipment and course fees. Plus, you have to drive to the course whenever you want to play. It’s best to try golfing with a friend or rent equipment to see if you enjoy it before investing in equipment of your own.

Discover the health benefits of a Velotric electric bike

As you can see, there are many types of exercise for seniors. Of the above cardio exercises, e-cycling offers some unique benefits for your well-being — all thanks to the e-bike motor.

This low-impact activity can improve heart health and muscle tone while enhancing endurance. You can engage pedal assist when you're tired, increasing range and workout times and helping you conquer tough terrain like hills.

Plus, e-bikes offer safety advantages that traditional bikes lack. For example, pedal assist improves maneuverability and start time. If you're biking in a city, for instance, this lets you maintain speed and keep up with the flow of traffic to stay safe.

Think e-cycling is the right exercise option for you? Velotric has a bike to meet your needs.

Velotric's Class 2 e-bikes include five-level pedal assist and throttle assist, so you can easily engage the bike motor when you need a break. Our bikes come with a 48V 14.4Ah battery that charges fully in just six hours.

Our bike batteries are certified by the global standards safety organization Underwriters Laboratories (UL 2271). Each bike also comes with safety accessories, like a front light, bell, and front and rear reflectors.

If you want to cruise around town, the Discover 1 has all-purpose 2.5” tires that can tackle most city streets comfortably. For more outdoorsy adventures, try the Nomad 1. The fatter tires give you more stability on across rugged terrain including mud, sand, and snow.

Find the right bike for you.


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