4 Low-Impact Exercises for Seniors that Promote Physical and Mental Health

As people age, they may be inclined to slow down, but physical activity is more important than ever for mental and physical health.

According to Rhonda Campbell, Director of Wellness Services at Menno Haven, “It’s so important to stay active as we age. Menno Haven Wellness Centers focus on the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of wellness. Daily activity can significantly increase cardiovascular function and lead to an overall happier, healthier life.

Even if a person has some limitations, physical fitness can still be a priority–it’s just a matter of finding the right activity, especially one that is low impact. Low-impact exercises for older people can include activities like swimming, tai chi, yoga and strength training.

1. Swimming: A Great Cardio Option

Swimming is a low-impact exercise that can be done by anyone, regardless of their age. It is an effective way to strengthen the heart through aerobic exercise. Swimming can also help older adults with chronic pain and mobility issues.

Unlike high-impact workouts like running or jogging, swimming provides low-impact exercise that is easy on joints and is perfect for those who want to stay healthy and fit. There are many benefits of swimming for older adults:

  • It provides an excellent cardiovascular workout.
  • It strengthens muscles in the arms, torso, and legs.
  • It improves flexibility.
  • It helps prevent osteoporosis.

2. Yoga: Exercise that Promotes Balance and Flexibility

Yoga is a low-impact exercise that can help older adults maintain their independence and improve their quality of life. A consistent yoga practice can improve flexibility, strength, balance, and emotional well-being. Best of all, different types of yoga practices can be tailored to a person’s abilities and can even be practiced sitting or lying down as well as standing.

3. Tai Chi: A Low-Impact Exercise

Based on an ancient martial art that originated in China, tai chi is a low-impact exercise. Participants perform gentle, rhythmic movements, breathing, and stretches. This exercise that Mayo Clinic calls a “moving meditation” was originally designed to be a form of self-defense and healing practice. Tai chi is now practiced worldwide, with more than 70 million people practicing it daily.

It provides a wide range of benefits, including improved balance and flexibility, helping to reduce the risk of falls. Plus, it is a fantastic stress-reduction technique.

4. Strength Training:  Muscle Tone for Everyone

Consistent use of weights or resistance bands can help combat poor balance and bone and muscle tone loss— all serious issues for older adults. After the age of 50, muscle tone declines by up to fifteen percent each decade, and the risk of osteoporosis grows. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends consistent aerobic and weight training participation for everyone over age 50. Strength training can be tailored to ability, and even consistent use of light weights can reap benefits.

Independent Living Makes Fitness Easy

As an independent living community, Menno Haven is committed to providing wellness opportunities to keep its residents’ minds, bodies, and spirits active and healthy year-round. Supported by our team of fitness trainers, residents can enjoy a calming yoga or tai chi class, swim in one of our three indoor pools, or enjoy scheduled fitness activities like a square dancing lesson. Contact us today if you’d like to explore all that Menno Haven has to offer through independent living. We’d love to meet you!