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Maybe you’re already starting to feel that degenerative pain in your joints. Maybe you’ve racked up an impressive list of injuries after some youthful years of tackle football. Or maybe you just want to stay healthy and limber enough to keep playing golf on the weekends. In any case, the one thing you definitely don’t want to do is kick your feet up and become sedentary. A safe, low-impact exercise routine is vital to preventing potential health problems and protecting you from future injuries. Studies show that simply working your way up to 20 or 30 minutes per day of simple exercise is going to improve arthritis symptoms, improve your blood pressure, and reduce your risks of heart attacks and other diseases.
Find your nearest pool, lake, or ocean and get moving. Few things are as powerfully effective, therapeutic, and easy on your body as a water workout. You’ll get the ease on your joints from the buoyancy, but you’ll still get all the effects from the resistance of the water. Water workouts are often used in physical therapy, so along with not only being safe for those with injuries, it can also be immensely healing. It is also great for stress reduction and chronic pain management. Within the genre of water exercise, there are many choices for you. There is simple water walking, underwater toning exercises, and lap swimming for the solo athlete, and a huge array of group classes, like water yoga, for those looking for a more social experience.
It really doesn’t get much easier than this. It shares many of the exact same perks as running, including those that benefit the heart. By just adding 30 minutes per day of this light exercise, you can improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and improve your mental stress levels.
Walking is also one of the simplest workouts to implement into your existing schedule. Choose a stroll over driving for your daily errands, tag on a few extra minutes when you walk the dog, or just pull your kids in a wagon around the neighborhood.
If you want to up the ante, turn your walk into more of a hike by finding some hills nearby or cranking up your treadmill, or add a weighted backpack.
While quieting your mental noise, this workout combines gentle lengthening and strengthening poses and postures. This beneficial stretching has been shown to be valuable to spine health, which can’t be overemphasized as you age. Without a healthy back, your overall range of motion is going to suffer dramatically, making simple everyday movements painful and difficult. “Having a healthy, flexible spine is not just about maintaining good posture,” Meghan Covington, owner of Mind-Body Fitness NYC. “It’s about improving the quality of life in the long run.” Yoga is also an ideal choice if you’re looking to reduce those aches and pains of aging. Newbies should try a class with a registered yoga teacher to get the full rewards of the poses. Instructors can offer important modifications to anyone with injuries to help strengthen and prevent future occurrences.
Jumping on a bike is another low-impact exercise that can get you reaping you the benefits of a healthy heart and toned muscles. With a properly fitted bicycle, recreational riding is gentle on the joints and easier on the body than running, with less muscle damage and soreness.
It’s a great workout for your legs and butt, and you can choose to ride on some hills or mountains if you want to get your upper body in on the action, too.
Along with walking, cycling is easy to incorporate into your daily routine – an implementation that can very positively affect your mental state and mood. The University of Reading in England, with other institutions, is conducting a study looking at the positive impacts of cycling on the 50 + population’s independence, wellbeing, and health, as well as trying to find ways to make cycling more inviting to older populations.
You can try a group spin class, although these will be more impactful than a simple ride through the park; you can ride along a scenic bike path, or you can even use a stationary bike in your living room.
Everyone can benefit from a little core stability work. These exercises are ideal for not only strengthening and reducing your gut but for keeping your back healthy.
Movements that focus on the core are often used in rehabilitation programs for people who have suffered from lower back pain and problems. These exercises, like crunches, lower back raises, or planks, for example, are perfect on their own or as part of a larger exercise routine.
Princeton University’s Health Services has an entire program designed to help people who want to reverse or prevent lower back pain. It’s divided into flexibility and strengthening exercises so you can choose the area that you need to focus on the most.