One of the biggest fitness problems that comes along with aging is the issue of sore joints. Many of us who are active even begin to experience these problems in our 20s and 30s, let alone in our 50s and 60s! And to an extent, it’s something we just have to deal with. Certain exercises, like playing sports or doing rigorous cardio or strength training, can strain joints. But if it’s at the point of discomfort, or if you’re simply looking for ways to stay fit while preserving your joints, these are five low-impact exercises you might want to work into your routine.
1. Elliptical Running
Elliptical running is a very popular alternative to other cardio exercises for those who are concerned about joint health, or even those who have specific knee injuries to deal with. Along with cycling, this is a form of exercise that can exercise your knees’ range of motion and give you a complete cardio workout without putting large forces on your knees – which can be invaluable for an aging body. It’s true that it’s not quite as rigorous as a treadmill workout or an outdoor run, but it still has the same benefits without the physical impact.
As mentioned, cycling is considered to have some of the same benefits of elliptical running, in that it can work your legs and exercise your fully range of knee motion without any kind of impact. The only potential issue for an aging body is the strain on the back that can come from leaning over handlebars. But for this reason, a recumbent bike (one in which you sit and recline and only work your legs) can be one of the best options. Most gyms have them, and in fact they’re usually among the more affordable home workout machines to purchase as well.
Swimming is perhaps the ultimate low impact exercise, though it can be a little bit inaccessible if you don’t have access to a workout pool, or even if you don’t have much experience in the water. Whatever the case, it’s a full-body workout that helps to build muscle and has cardio benefits, and it involves virtually no impact that can harm joints (or worsen existing joint issues). Swimming requires patience if you’re not used to it; if you’re able to run eight miles but you haven’t done laps in years, you may find that you’re still out of breath after a few lengths of the pool. But with some work it can become an invaluable addition to your routine.
4. Leg Raises
Leg raises are quite simple to do, and they may be better exercises than you think (with virtually no strain on your joints). You need only lay on your side and raise your top leg up so that it forms a “V” with your bottom one, holding for several seconds (or else raising and lowering repeatedly). Naturally it works the legs, but as one article recommending the exercise mentioned, this exercise engages the core as well. It does nice work on your abs, essentially strengthening your whole lower body without any impact.
Yoga, like swimming, is widely viewed as one of the best ways to work your whole body without any kind of harmful impact. But beyond not having an impact, yoga is also actually known to strengthen the joints, when practiced properly. This makes it an absolutely vital component to an exercise routine in an aging body. These days, the science behind yoga’s benefits is clear enough that even young people should be getting used to it and making it part of a regular routine. But in your 50s or 60s, yoga can become the very healthiest thing you do in a given day.