Dial down the need for intensity, and just get moving! Make staying active easier with these low impact exercises, no matter where you’re starting at.
BY: KIM DENKHAUS, MS, RD
Low impact exercises are easy on the body and joints, and studies show that as little as 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week of moderate-intensity physical activity can contribute to overall improvement in health.
Exercising regularly reduces the risk of obesity, may help improve blood pressure, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels (particularly HDL the “good” cholesterol), and overall heart health. Physical activity also helps build lean muscle and keeps bones healthy and strong.
Here are some great low impact exercise ideas to help meet your exercise goals:
Walking is a good low-impact exercise that can be done year-round in various indoor and outdoor settings. Walking has many health benefits with low risk of injury. Walking briskly or hill-walking can be a great way to elevate the heart rate. You can even add hand or ankle weights to increase the aerobic activity of your walk.
Walking with friends or loved ones can also be a great opportunity to socialize and reduces stress. If you’re new to walking, aim to start with just a 10 minute walk around the neighborhood, or walk the perimeter of the grocery store. Challenge yourself each week by adding 5 minutes more to your daily walk, gradually baby stepping your way to better health.
Flow and release tension as you strengthen and stretch your muscles through yoga. Deep breathing techniques coupled with holding physical postures helps reduce stress and increase blood circulation. By using your own bodyweight for resistance and strengthening, yoga is an outstanding low impact exercise for building lean muscle tone and core strength.
As you age, your risk of falls increases, so it’s beneficial to focus on exercises that maintain or improve balance. Research suggests that tai chi may help reduce fall risk among older adults. Tai chi is a form of moving meditation that strengthens and tones the body through slow, controlled low-impact movements that are gentle on the joints. Similar to yoga, tai chi focuses on deep breathing techniques that can help reduce stress and increase physical strength.
Spending time outside in a garden is beneficial for both the mind and the body! Live in a city with no space to garden? Don’t let that stop you – many cities offer community gardens that welcome volunteers. Gardens cultivate a sense of health and well-being, provide active recreation, and create a place where individuals can come together and socialize with other members of their community.
Find your inner mermaid as you use the resistance of the water to strengthen and tone your physique. Water aerobics is a therapeutic and dynamic workout that is easy on the body and joints. Exercising in the water can feel like playtime, yet water aerobics provides an awesome way to burn calories while building lean muscle tone. The cushioning effects of water make water aerobics a great choice for individuals with joint pain, or those with limited range of motion.
Adapted from the original article.
Kim Denkhaus, MS, RD is a registered dietitian nutritionist in private practice in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. She has been in the health and wellness industry for over 8 years, and is passionate about helping individuals reconnect with food in a sustainable, healthier way that will help them appreciate where their food comes from and empower them to use use whole foods to fuel and nourish their bodies.