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Low-Impact Exercises for Seniors accent

September 27, 2023 | By

The secret to a longer, healthier life isn’t a secret at all. Exercise is accessible to almost everyone, and research suggests it is one of the most important predictors of health. As you age, exercise becomes even more important because it can help you retain bone and muscle strength, reduce your risk of conditions like osteoporosis, delay neurodegenerative orders such as Parkinson’s, and improve your overall quality of life

You’re never too old to exercise, and it’s never too late to start reaping its immense benefits. In fact, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that older adults exercise as much as younger people. Per week, you should aim for at least two days of strength-building exercises, like yoga or weightlifting, and 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio, such as walking, or 75 minutes of high-intensity cardio, such as running. 

Aging doesn’t necessarily mean you need to change your exercise routine. If you’re in good health and your current regimen works well for you, then continue enjoying it! But joint pain, osteoporosis, and other conditions that tend to increase with age may mean you need to reduce the impact on your bones. Low-impact exercises for seniors can help you stay active while minimizing the risk of pain and injury. Here are our top five picks.



Walking is an option for almost everyone. You need no special skills or equipment, and you can do it just about anywhere. It’s also easy to modify based on your needs. Hate the heat and need to avoid rugged terrain? Try walking around the mall or an indoor track. Are you tired of boring exercise? Head out for a trail hike and look for birds and other wildlife along the way. Grab a friend (with four or two legs) to make it more social. And if you want to fit in your strength training, you can even carry weights or use a weighted vest. 

If you're not ready for a major change, walking is a great way to become more active. Commit to a quick walking break every couple of hours, steadily increasing your daily step count as you build fitness.

Swimming and Water Aerobics 

Water-based exercise is a great way to enjoy an intense workout with almost no impact on your joints. And if you hate the heat, the water cools you down. (Just make sure you remember to hydrate because you’ll still sweat!)

Conditioned athletes may find endless morning laps engaging and challenging, whereas beginners may find that a quick dip in the pool and a lap or two are all it takes to build fitness. A water aerobics class is also a great option — and an opportunity to make new friends! Some WesleyLife communities offer pools with various fitness classes and options for public access.


Whether you’re a dedicated fan, retired dancer, or new to pliés, pirouettes, and battements, ballet is a great way to cultivate strength, mobility, and flexibility. The stretches can strengthen your muscles, but ballet also offers a customizable cardiovascular workout — ranging from a low-intensity beginner class to the high intensity of greater skill levels. 

Barre classes are a great way to cultivate ballet skills. Blending yoga, pilates, and ballet, these classes help you cultivate strength, mobility, and flexibility. Many community centers offer these classes, and practicing at home affords you even more workout opportunities. 


Yoga is an ideal strength training exercise for people of all skill levels. Novices can build more flexibility with simple poses, deep breathing, and pain-relieving sequences. As you develop strength and skill, the feats you can achieve are truly astounding (and have a low impact on your joints). 

As one of the most popular exercise options, yoga is also highly accessible. Check out this free online yoga resource, or visit Yoga Journal to build a custom routine and learn more about yoga poses. Des Moines is also home to several yoga studios, many of which cater to a diverse population with highly inclusive classes.


Believe it or not, cycling is a great option for older adults who hate exercise. Just hop on a stationary bike and listen to a podcast or watch a movie for a workout that doesn’t feel like one. Rev up the intensity as your needs evolve. If you love the feel of the wind at your back and relish time in the great outdoors, head to a neighborhood park or trail for a solo venture or an excursion with a cycling buddy. 

The right community can support your fitness goals with a high-quality, low-maintenance lifestyle, walkable grounds, and a range of fun and engaging fitness classes. Begin your search here.



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