It's no secret that regular aerobic exercise plays an important role in heart health, but as we age, sometimes high impact activity can be too much for our joints and bones. You'll be happy to know there are several excellent low-impact exercises that your senior loved ones can do to boost cardiovascular fitness, reduce stress, prevent injury and even help to lower blood pressure.

Low-impact exercises fall into four categories: endurance, strength, flexibility and balance. Each type provides a different benefit to our overall health:

  1. Endurance or aerobic activities help to increase energy, breathing, and heart rate.
  2. Strength exercises help to build muscles, but can also reduce the signs and symptoms of diseases and chronic conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes and depression.
  3. Flexibility exercises stretch muscles to help offset the effects of normal decline from aging in the joints and keeps the body limber.
  4. Balance activities help to prevent falls by improving your loved one’s ability to control and maintain their body’s position…whether they are moving or still.

Incorporating all four types of exercise into a routine helps reduce the risk of injury and keeps your loved one from getting bored. Performing these activities together also provides a great opportunity to bond, while helping to provide the added peace of mind that the senior in your life doesn’t overexert or hurt themselves in the process. Instead of doing just one exercise all the time, make sure you mix it up! Try combining endurance exercises, like walking or swimming, with exercises that focus on the other categories. Your senior can build strength through light weight training, yoga or tai chi, for example. Yoga is also a great way to improve flexibility and balance.

Keep in mind…practice makes permanent. These low impact activities can be a fun, but will only show benefits if done regularly and with the correct focus. WebMD has some great suggestions for additional low-impact exercises to incorporate into daily routines.

We urge you to consult your doctor before beginning or changing any exercise to be sure you’re following a safe, effective physical activity program. Share your favorite heart-healthy exercises with us by commenting below or by sharing on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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