Aging changes quite a few things about our bodies. Sometimes we gain weight, we have less energy, and our bodies don’t move like they used to. Mood and mental health can then be affected by these physical changes. This can have an impact on how we take care of ourselves and stand in the way of our health.
Knowing how to best approach these changes makes a huge difference in how they can affect your life. One way to combat the effects of aging is by engaging in exercise as it has been found to improve mood and mental health in aging adults. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of exercises specifically selected to meet those particular needs.
What Is Low Impact?
Low impact exercises generally refer to activities that put less harmful stress on the body. This refers to activities such as running. When you run, all of your weight is bouncing on your skeleton and joints, causing strain and potentially pain. Having that weight coming down on one hip joint, knee, or foot can lead to new pain or exacerbate existing joint problems.
Low impact exercises involve smoother motions where weight and stresses are transferred throughout the body more smoothly—avoiding that jolt of stress that can cause pain. Low impact is all about raising the heart rate and improving health without wearing on your joints.
We do it every day, and most people don’t consider it that much of a struggle to walk. If you’re looking for a good intro to low impact exercises, walking is a great option. For added difficulty, set your walk on an incline or with added weight like a backpack.
Just like walking, cycling is a straightforward low impact exercise. Your body is in fluid motion and muscles are always working. It’s possible to either bike out and about or at home on a cycling machine.
When it comes to smooth fluid motions, there’s really one activity that stands out as obvious. There are a variety of health benefits associated with Tai Chi, from improved balance and physical self-awareness, to improved mood and reduced stress. Unlike some other exercises, you don’t need any additional equipment to start practicing, and Youtube has plenty of videos for beginners looking to try their hand at this relaxing low impact exercise.
Along the same vein of smooth motions and body control, yoga is a fantastic way to improve flexibility and balance. The awesome part about yoga is that you don’t need to be a master contortionist to get started (or even maintain the practice), and you can measure your improvements in easily identifiable ways. After a week or so of these stretches, you might notice you can reach down and touch lower on your legs or even get to your toes when you previously could not!
Swimming is the ultimate low impact exercise. Your full weight is being supported in the water, meaning at no point is your body working to support it. Simply treating water is a fantastic way to increase your heart rate and improve cardiovascular health. Walking through water is even less impact than walking on dry land! You also get the added benefit of walking through the resistance of the water, meaning your exercise is even more effective. For an even more practical reason to try out this exercise, consider it a great excuse to hang out in the pool during the hot summer days!
Reaping The Benefits
There are a few reasons to do these exercises as we previously mentioned: physical, mental, and emotional health. Unlike heavy weight training or running where you can mark your success by checking your increased mileage and added weight on the dumbbell, low impact training requires something more internal.
Taking a look at your overall daily experience both in and out of your training is important. Some of these exercises allow for measuring of physical benefits—how far you might swim; can you touch your toes; length of a cycling session—but it’s hard to quantify the emotional benefits.
Try to notice how you feel before, during, and after an exercise. Even if you aren’t motivated before a workout, most people will testify that their mood has improved after the fact. Once you recognize this in your own experience with low impact exercises, that becomes a motivation in itself.
Doing regular personal check-ins about how you feel throughout the day, both before and after, can also put everything in perspective. Having a regular mental check-in regiment about your exercise routine can keep you sharp and improve/maintain overall functionality.
Getting older doesn’t mean your body can’t continue to improve and maintain mobility and strength. By engaging in these simple and accessible low impact activities, you can hold off the more negative impacts associated with growing older.
Working with a professional to identify which exercises and practices might be most effective for you is always a good idea. The experts at Renewed Vitality are especially knowledgeable about these kinds of practices. Give us a call to set up an evaluation and check in today!