According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, most senior adults over the age of 65 should aim for 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) of moderate-intensity exercise per week. However, that can be a challenge if you deal with chronic pain or limited mobility. It’s frustrating when you want to maintain an active lifestyle, but certain health issues just keep slowing you down. Fortunately, these low-impact activities will make it easier to move without discomfort, increase range of motion and prioritize your overall fitness.
Table of Contents
Maintain Your Own Garden
Outdoor exercise offers so many wellness benefits—a boost in circulation, energy, respiration and stress relief, just to name a few. Physical limitations can sometimes restrict your access to the outdoors, but hobbies such as gardening make it feel more attainable. There’s something therapeutic about rolling up your sleeves to pot the soil, plant the seeds, prune the leaves, and care for new life as it grows. Of course, it can be difficult to maintain a full-size garden if you’re unable to squat or crouch down for long periods of time, so if you need a lower maintenance alternative, start with a small indoor garden. It’s less strenuous and labor intensive, but you still reap the mental and physical health benefits.
Practice a Gentle Yoga Flow
If you want a complete, full-body exercise that stretches and tones all the muscle groups without painful over-exertion, look no further than yoga. This ancient practice is gentle, restorative, and safe for any fitness or experience level. Whether you stick with a few postures or move through an entire flow, yoga has been found to increase mobility, strength, balance and flexibility. It also helps to reduce your risk of injuries, sleep issues and cognitive decline. Not to mention, there are all kinds of yoga variations, so you can ease the pace, modify the poses or even use a chair for extra lumbar support if necessary. This form of exercise is highly adaptable, so customize the practice to suit your own needs or abilities.
Join a Group Tai Chi Class
Known as “meditation in motion,” tai chi is a slow, methodical type of martial arts that focuses on circular movements performed in a continuous, fluid rhythm. Unlike some other exercises, when you practice tai chi, there’s no hyperextension or over-stretching in the joints, and your muscles are relaxed, not tense or contracted, explains Harvard Health. Tai chi also teaches you how to breathe deeply, tune into physical sensations and restore balance to the mind-body connection. Although it’s much lower impact than a traditional fitness regimen, tai chi effectively promotes strength, flexibility and aerobic conditioning. Since the movements are natural and never forced, it helps with pain relief and range of motion too.
Volunteer for a Local Cause
When you think about exercise, chances are, volunteering isn’t the first activity that comes to mind, but it’s vital to a healthy, balanced routine. Whether you walk dogs at an animal shelter, canvas for a local election campaign, serve meals at a food bank or attend a march for social justice, you’ll make a difference in the community, while boosting your step count in the process. According to health researchers at the University of Maryland, volunteering is a simple, effective way to regulate physical, mental and emotional wellness at the same time. It can help you build relational connections, develop resilience from stress, relieve anxiety or depression, manage blood pressure and improve your outlook on life.
Simple Actions Lead to Major Health Improvements
When it comes to improving your wellness, no action is too small. In fact, gradual, incremental shifts are the easiest and most sustainable ways to ensure positive long-term results. So if you think an active lifestyle is out of reach due to chronic pain, limited mobility or another medical issue, it’s time to re-evaluate that assumption. These exercises might feel low-impact, but they’ll deliver serious health and fitness gains.