Active Over 50: Low Impact Exercises Your Joints Will Appreciate

Health and Fitness, Love Your Body
low impact exercise
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Do your knees hurt?

Yeah, mine too.

For all that I love my beyond fifty life and so much of what goes with it, aching joints are one of the less lovely things about this stage of life.  

Of course, your doctor will tell you that one of the best ways to be kind to your joints is not to carry extra weight.  But how do you keep off the weight if your knees hurt too much to exercise? Talk about a vicious circle.

Worries about my poor, aching knees were part of the reason I was hesitant to begin training for a triathlon. I did do a little running in my early to mid-thirties and even entered a couple of races. However, my twenty-five mile a week running regime was ended by knee pain.

So far, with a bit of help from post-run ice packs, my knee pain has been manageable even as I prepare for an August sprint triathlon. But the biggest factor in keeping joint pain under control this time is my multi-sport training plan.

Though I train six days a week, I only run on two of those days. On the other four days, my workout is centered on lower-impact exercise – swimming and biking.That gives my knees a chance to rest and recover between runs.

What makes an exercise low impact?  Low impact means that at least one foot is on the ground at all times. In other words – none of the jumping that pounds your poor joints.

Here are some ideas for joint friendly, low impact exercises to help you keep being fierce at 50 and beyond!

(Remember to check with your doctor before you undertake any new exercise program – even if it’s low impact.)

 

SWIMMING AND WATER AEROBICS

If you’re looking for exercise that is kind to your joints, look no farther than the nearest swimming pool!

As I’ve discovered, swimming laps is an amazing full body workout. Swimming has trimmed inches from my waist, strengthened my arms, and even banished the extra flesh that hung over the band of my bra.  It’s also improved the range of motion in my shoulders – which is great for a lady who has suffered from frozen shoulder in the past.

If lap swimming isn’t your cup of tea, a good water aerobics class has many similar benefits. The best part? There will be virtually zero pressure on your joints. You might make some new friends too! The women I’ve met who take water aerobic at my local pool have been friends for years.

Of course, the tricky part of all this is that you need one very big piece of exercise equipment – a swimming pool.  Private athletic clubs often have lap pools and water workouts. But you might find a more affordable option at your local community center or Y.

 

YOGA, PILATES, OR BARRE

These non-aerobic, low impact exercises that can have a huge impact on your strength, muscle tone, balance, and flexibility.  Don’t let the word “non-aerobic” fool you, done properly, these workouts can be very intense and burn plenty of calories.

Yoga is an ancient practice that can help improve flexibility and balance while practicing mindfulness.  Like yoga, Pilates is great for increasing flexibility and balance. It puts special emphasis on strengthening the “core”, muscles surrounding the torso.

Miss your childhood ballet classes? Barre might be the perfect low-impact exercise program for you.  Claiming it’s a blend of yoga, pilates and ballet, barre utilizes movement influenced by traditional ballet for a workout helps you improve flexibility, balance, and strength – and look graceful doing it. Fair warning: it may be difficult to walk the next day from your sore muscles!

 

ROWING

Whether on the water or on a stationary machine at the gym, rowing provides a heart pounding, calorie burning, muscle building, full body workout that’s also easy on your knee and hip joints.

If you don’t have access to a gym, investing in a rowing machine can be a good investment in your health and fitness.  With just one piece of relatively easy to store equipment, you can help work all the major muscles – including your heart!

 

ELLIPTICAL

Elliptical training is a little like walking on air. As you take your stride, the pedals move along in a circular motion so your feet never leave them.  Though elliptical exercise is very low impact, you can really work up a sweat doing it.

Adding interval training to your mix by increasing your speed for a short time at regular intervals can really boost the cardiovascular impact of this workout!

As you can see, when it comes to low impact exercise, there are lots of options.  Really, I just scratched the surface.  Hiking, biking, rock climbing, or even rollerblading can give you a terrific workout and still be easy on your joints.

Whatever you do, keep moving! Frequent, vigorous exercise is crucial to staying healthy, fierce, and fabulous at fifty and far beyond.

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