A very smart, insightful and fit person recently reminded me about the importance of low impact exercises. As we approach our middle ages and beyond, it’s important to consider strength and functional gains in conjunction with joint protection and injury prevention.
I have written about this in the past in my blog post “When to Stop Running “. Most fit, athletic and active people grow up doing high-impact athletic activities such as basketball or running. We enjoy taxing our bodies to maximum exertion and and receiving an endorphin release from sustained effort.
Is important however that we transition to low impact workouts that are easy on our joints, particularly the knees. This may mean ending our running careers or event eliminating a mini trampoline work out. Low-impact workouts include a variety of exercises that can both increase your heart rate as well as improve your strength. These include but are not limited to swimming, yoga, walking, bicycling, or elliptical machine workouts, just to name a few
In general, low impact exercises will usually involve keeping 1 foot on the ground and therefore reduce stress and pressure on your joints. Swimming is a classic low-impact exercise that can strengthen virtually every muscle of your body and give you a great aerobic workout. A large amount of expensive equipment is not necessary if you get creative with body weight type exercises. This includes activities such as yoga which maintains sustained postures.
Other great options include use of bands or straps. You can use them to work multiple muscles of your arms and legs as well as your core. They decrease stress on your body by providing graded resistance on your proximal joints as you stretch them further from your body. Even if you have no equipment at all, you can do some basic old fashioned exercises such as jumping jacks, burpees or mountain climbers, When you’re on all fours, bring your knees up repeatedly towards your chest. This will give you a great aerobic workout with an added benefit of working your core.
Be creative but always consider long-term health maintenance. Avoid high-impact exercise routines that entail repetitive bouncing or jarring of your joints.