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What Is Low-Impact Exercise?

According to the CDC, adults over the age of 65 need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week. Though there are many types of exercise, sometimes seniors’ options are limited by their physical health. For example, if you have problems with your bones, joints, or connective tissues, your doctor may urge you to avoid high-impact exercises like jogging, hiking, and tennis. That doesn’t mean you’re not able to exercise; you simply need to focus on low-impact workouts. So, what is low-impact exercise?

What Is Low-Impact Exercise?

Low-impact exercises are exercises that minimize the pressure put on the joints. They’re gentler and easier on the joints, but that doesn’t mean they don’t provide a good workout. The American Sports and Fitness Association states that “high and low-impact exercises are both important to overall fitness.” Low-impact exercises are excellent for people who have joint or bone issues (such as arthritis or osteoporosis), but they’re also a great option for people who are just beginning their fitness journey or recovering from an injury. They increase your heart rate and help you stay active without putting too much stress on your body.

To decide if low-impact exercise is right for you, talk to your doctor. Together, you can discuss your fitness goals and personal needs. Your doctor may also recommend that you consult a physical trainer to determine which exercises best fit your needs and to ensure that you perform the exercises correctly.

Examples of Low-Impact Exercises

If you’re interested in adding some low-impact exercises to your routine, you’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty to choose from. Let’s take a look at a few of your options.

  • Walking: You may think of walking as an inevitable part of being human, but it can also be an effective workout. Try to increase your pace a little to boost your heart rate.
  • Swimming: When you swim, you move your body against the resistance provided by the water. It’s very gentle on your joints but still helps you improve your heart and lung strength.
  • Water Aerobics: If swimming laps isn’t your jam but you like the idea of hopping into a pool, try water aerobics. In addition to improving your strength, you might make some new friends if you join a class!
  • Yoga: With its breathing techniques and slow and steady movements, yoga can improve your balance and stress levels as well as your strength.
  • Pilates: An overall body workout, pilates requires strength and flexibility to execute the controlled movements. It’s especially beneficial when it comes to building muscle in the body’s core.
  • Indoor Cycling: Cycling is an excellent leg workout that doesn’t require you to put a lot of weight on your joints. Plus, you strengthen your balance when positioned on the bike.
  • Tai Chi: A traditional Chinese practice, tai chi is fantastic for building balance and preventing falls. It can also improve coordination and strength.


As we age, our joints naturally become stiffer and our bones become weaker. Although you might be tempted to skip exercise altogether if you’re feeling stiff and uncomfortable, maintaining an active lifestyle is actually one of the best ways to boost your joint and bone health. With the approval of your doctor, consider adding some low-impact exercises to your routine.

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