6 Low-Impact Exercises to Improve Balance
Exercise is important at any age, but especially as we get older. Exercise helps increase your metabolism, improves flexibility, and many other benefits. But one of the most important benefits of exercise is that it can improve your balance, which means you should be safer in everyday activities like getting in and out of the bathtub.
These 6 low-impact exercises for seniors are fun ways to get moving and can help improve your balance:
Swimming is one of the best exercises you can do because it engages nearly all muscle groups, including upper body, lower body, and core. Because of this, it can also improve your balance because a strong core is the key to all fundamental movements.
Swimming laps is great, but you can also do water aerobics to get the same, if not more, of a workout. There are many water aerobic classes locally, or you can build your own routine filled with exercises to improve balance. Try walking in the shallow end of the pool to begin and once you master that, add some speed and aquatic weights (foam dumbbells that add resistance).
Running can be hard on the joints, but walking is low-impact and reaps many of the same benefits. Even just a short 15-minute walk a day can help burn calories, improve your balance, and improve blood circulation in your legs. Whether you’re walking on a treadmill at the gym or outside in your neighborhood, this low-impact exercise for seniors continues to be a favorite (and for good reason).
Riding a bike is a great exercise for all ages because it’s low-impact but is great cardio. Plus, riding a bike improves your balance because you have to stay upright on the bike, which engages your core, shoulders, quads, and glutes. If you have a bicycle, grab it and go for a short ride. If you don’t, indoor cycling classes are another great way to take advantage of this low-impact exercise. If you’ve never taken a cycling class before, don’t worry! There are classes suited for all levels, from beginner to expert, and you can always let the instructor know if you have any injuries or concerns before the class starts.
4. Tai Chi
Tai chi is a traditional Chinese practice that exercises both your body and your mind. It has been called “meditation in motion” for good reason. This exercise involves fluid, graceful movements that work your whole body and can be adapted for people of all ages and movement levels. Besides being relaxing, stress relieving and fun, tai chi has also been shown to improve balance and help reduce the risk of falling in older adults by as much as 55%.
Like tai chi, yoga is comprised of simple movements that are focused on the flow of mental and physical energy. While yoga is a full-body workout, many of the movements focus on core strength and muscular endurance, two factors that can also improve balance. One of the best things about yoga is that you can make it as easy or advanced as you need, depending on the poses. Plus, all you need is a mat and some inspiration to get started!
Pilates is similar to yoga in that it focuses on low-impact movements in a slower-paced setting, but make no mistake – this practice is hard! Of course, you can customize your workout to fit your needs, but Pilates emphasizes core strength, flexibility, and is a great exercise to improve balance. Just a few weeks of Pilates classes and you’ll likely notice changes in your body and balance. You can either do floor Pilates or use a Pilates reformer, which can help enhance poses. SIlverSneakers has a class called Boom Mind that is inspired by the movements of Pilates.
Maintaining your fitness, flexibility, and balance is important for people of all ages, but it’s especially important for older adults because low-impact exercise can help us look, feel, and live better.
*Even with low-impact exercises, it’s important to consult your physician before starting any new exercise routine.