Is Low Impact Exercise Effective?

Newsflash: 31 million older Americans are not getting enough exercise! Are you one of them? Well if you are, you’re not alone. The CDC warns that inactivity increases risk for falls, broken bones, serious disease, and early death, but you have the power to turn things around. Getting the motivation to start moving is tough but hopefully one of these low impact exercises will click and get you into a routine to keep you moving for years to come. 

workout gear
Low impact exercise refers to activities that do not place increased stress on your joints.

What is low impact exercise?

Low impact exercise slowly gets your heart rate up and causes less pressure on your joints than high impact exercise. Low impact exercise can help you achieve your exercise goals without aggravating an existing injury or causing a new one. Low impact exercise also helps maintain and build muscle mass that decreases as you get older. When you have more muscle tissue, your body can continue burning calories even while you’re resting.

walking along water
A 20-minute walk, or about 2,000 steps, equal a mile.


Walking is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of low impact exercises. Probably because it’s one of the easiest. Anywhere you go, you can take a walk. It’s easy to take a nice leisurely stroll or kick it up a notch and do a high intense power walk so the effort you want to exert is really up to you. Walking is not only great for your physical health but it’s great for your mental health as well. If you want to catch up with a friend, take a walk. If you move and find yourself in a new town or neighborhood, and meet some neighbors. No matter how short or long your walk is, just remember it’s better than sitting down and not doing anything!


An hour of swimming burns almost as many calories as running, without all the impact on your bones and joints.

You don’t have to be Michael Phelps to get a safe, effective workout in the water. Swimming is a great low impact workout because it’s friendly on your joints and gives you a weightless feeling. When you’re in the water the stress on your bones and joints is reduced, making it great if you have arthritis or are recovering from an injury. Grab a kickboard, lay on it, and use your arms. Or if you want to just work your legs, hang onto the edge of the kickboard and just kick. Because the majority of pools are outside in direct sunlight, don’t forget to apply your sunscreen. The combination of air temperature, water temperature, and humidity can quickly dehydrate you so just remember to hydrate regularly.

Water aerobics

Water aerobics are great for people who have injuries to reduce the impact on injured joints and body parts.

If you’re not into swimming laps, you can still jump in the water and take advantage of the buoyancy and weightlessness it offers. Water aerobics can help ease tension in the joints just like swimming. If you decide that water aerobics is the low impact workout that’s right for you, there are 2 pieces of equipment you can invest in to up your water aerobics game: water dumbbells and pool noodles. Just head to your local dollar store and you can find a pool noodle. If you want something with a little more weight (pun intended), try a sporting goods store for water dumbbells. They both provide resistance to give your water workout a little boost and help develop muscle strength. 


indoor bike
Cycling is non weight bearing and low impact which prevents putting undue stress on your joints.

Get ready to put your bike pedals to the metal and help your heart in the process. Cycling is a great cardiovascular, low impact exercise. It reduces blood pressure, improves blood flow, and can reduce blockage of small arteries, all while taking it easy on your joints. Try an indoor stationary bike, get outside on a road bicycle, or hop on a cruiser and pedal along the boardwalk. Your joints and heart will thank you!

No matter what exercise you choose, start small. Just because it’s low impact doesn’t make it ineffective. You’re still going to burn calories, build muscle, and stay active. Low impact exercise can make a big impact on your physical, mental, and emotional health so get out and try something new today!


A Step Towards Curing Osteoporosis: Tai Chi

A major reason why seniors fall, break a hip, or get injured is due to lack of physical activity, and balance/flexibility issues. As you age, your bones become less dense and more fragile. You may feel less active than you used to be, but that does not mean you cannot pick up a simple, gentle form of exercise. Tai Chi is a form of Chinese martial arts that focuses on slow, controlled movements. It offers so many benefits, mainly being low impact, and improving your balance, and range of motion. It only takes about 20-30 minutes a day, and research shows it can reduce the incidence of falls by almost 45%. Because Tai Chi is non-strenuous and slow moving, it is easy to perform and will enhance your quality of life. May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, and Tai Chi is a great way to prevent/help with osteoporosis.

Tai Chi is a chinese martial art kind of exercise. It is a low impact exercise that will  keep you moving while bringing relief on joint pain.
Tai Chi is a Chinese martial arts exercise. It is a low impact exercise that will keep you moving while bringing relief on joint pain.

What is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi is a form of exercise that does not involve muscle tightening or connective tissue stretching. It developed between 700 and 1500 years ago as a Chinese fighting art, and is often practiced by Chinese seniors every morning! It focuses on mental and spiritual aspects integrated into slow moves which depict animal actions. There are a series of 19 movements, and when performing them you should be breathing deeply but naturally. These movements are done gracefully with meditation. It promotes serenity and inner peace amongst those who do it, creating a better mind-body connection. You can start this form of exercise at any age, and at almost any level of fitness.

The Benefits

Since Tai Chi is a low impact exercise, it has reduced stress on your joints and muscles. It is the ultimate exercise for those challenged by joint and bone issues. The benefits of Tai Chi are endless, especially for older adults.

  • Balance Control– Tai Chi improves your balance and stamina. It concentrates on physical components, which do not get used as often the older you become.
  • Reduces Chronic Pain– A study showed that seniors who practiced Tai Chi for 1-2 hours a week for 12 weeks had improvements in symptoms of fibromyalgia, arthritis pain, and tension headaches.
  • Lowers Diabetes Levels- Researchers found that Tai Chi lowered blood glucose levels of those who have type 2 diabetes.
  • Slows Down Parkinson’s– Physical activity has been shown to slow down the deterioration of motor functions. Tai Chi improves stability in patients with Parkinson’s.
  • Stronger Muscles– An hour of intense movements delivers the same benefits of taking a brisk walk. It is effective for building muscles.
  • Increased Energy

    Tai chi offers so many benefits. It increases your energy, mood, balance, sleep, and so much more.
    Tai chi offers so many benefits. It increases your energy, mood, balance, sleep, and so much more.
  • Increased Oxygen- Because Tai Chi requires deep steady breaths, your body receives more oxygen. This aids in healing from an injury faster, and reduced blood pressure.

  • Reduced Stress- The practice of Tai Chi is to clear your mind and relax your body. It is meant to tap into a more spiritual side of yourself.

  • Improved Mood- Releases endorphins that make you feel good.
  • Better Sleep- The same endorphins that improve your mood, also improve your quality of sleep.
  • Faster Recovery- Studies show that heart attack and stroke survivors who practiced Tai Chi recovered at a faster rate!

  • Improved Immune System- You body’s ability to fight off illness declines as you age. Tai Chi has been scientifically proven to improve the immune system.

Simple Moves to Get You Started

Tai Chi is adaptable for all ages, at any fitness level they may be on. It can also be performed in a chair, bed, or wheelchair if you have limited mobility. Make sure to stretch before exercising! Warm up with head rolls, bending down to touch your toes, shoulder rolls, arm circles, and knee circles. Here are a few meditative, slow, and steady Tai Chi moves to start with:

  • Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg– Raise one leg, bending at the knee. Stand on one leg for as long as you can before lowering it. Repeat with the other leg. You can use a wall for balance if needed.
  • Brush knee.
    Brush knee

    Brush Knee-  Bend your elbow and place one hand at chest level. Your wrist should be bent and palm open facing outwards. Your other hand should be at your side with palm facing the opposite direction. Step out. Raise one hand while the other falls with the elbow bent. One palm should face up, while the other faces down.

  • Shooting The Bow- Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart. Relax hands at your sides. Bend your knees slightly, and make fists with your hands and place them in front of your face with fingers facing you. Inhale and pivot at the waist to face your left, extending your left hand directly in front of you. Your left hand should open with the palm facing outward. Pull back slightly with your right fist as if shooting a bow and arrow. Exhale as you return to your starting pose.

  • Touch The Sky- Sit up straight. Place your hands in your lap with palms facing upwards and elbows outward. Inhale and raise your hands to chest level, turn your palms outwards and lift your hands above your head. Exhale and gently lower your arms to your sides. Repeat 10 times.
Golden Lion Shakes Its Mane
Golden Lion Shakes Its Mane
  • The Golden Lion Shakes its Mane– Sit up straight. With your hands resting on your thighs, take a deep breath. When you exhale lean forward until you stretch your lower back. Twist your shoulders to one side, while turning your head with your shoulders. Inhale as you return to the beginning position. Exhale and repeat 10 repetitions per side.