Starting to exercise: The benefits of low impact exercise

The NHS and World Health Organisation recommend 30 minutes of exercise a day. Low impact exercises are a great form of exercise to try when you’re just starting out. If you’re staying at home and can’t get out and about, these exercises are easy to do from the comfort of your home.

Exercise is important and there are many benefits.

Keeping fit can help with weight loss or maintaining your weight, reduce stress and anxiety, uplift your mood, help you get a better night's sleep and build up muscle strength, among many more benefits.

The NHS and World Health Organisation recommend trying to get over 150 minutes of physical activity a week, or 30 minutes a day, so it’s important to try and be active everyday. Low impact exercises are a great form of exercise to try when you’re just beginning, as low impact exercises can help to improve your overall health and fitness, and build up your strength without putting too much pressure on or harming your joints.

But what if you’re staying at home, can’t get out and about or not as stable or mobile as you’d like? Below we’ve listed some ideas to get you fit from the comfort of your home.

Chair based exercises

Doing gentle chair based exercises are just one of the ways that you can increase your amount exercise at home and it’s a great way of starting to do low impact exercises. Chair based exercises have many benefits, as they can help improve mobility and help to prevent falls by increasing strength, flexibility and balance.

Find examples of chair based exercises below to get you started:

Try a home workout video

Whilst the days of home workout DVDs may be behind us, the internet has opened up a world of activities and exercises we can do as older people from home. Today, you can access videos from personal trainers in a matter of seconds – all you need is a good Wi-Fi connection. Online videos offer many benefits including being convenient, having lots of variety online, and one of the best things - they are free!

Below we’ve listed some sites offering home workout videos:

Low impact exercises to try at home

Low impact exercises are great for older people because they help with strengthening and stretching muscles and can also help to improve balance, flexibility and stamina.

Some examples of low impact exercises you can do at home are:

  • Walking around the house or on the spot – Walking is much gentler on the joints than running, you don’t have to leave the house to do it, and you can fit it in any time of the day. You could try walking on the spot whilst you’re talking on the phone, walking around whilst listening to music, walking around whilst watching your favourite TV programme, or for increased intensity you could go up and down the stairs for a five or ten minute burst. You could even get a pedometer to see how many steps you are doing and try to increase your number of steps every week.

  • Yoga – Yoga helps to improve flexibility and strengthen your core as well as helping to improve your mood and mental well being. If you’re not sure where to start, you could try this chair based yoga video from Age UK.

  • Pilates – Pilates can help with balance, flexibility, focus and breathing, and is a gentle type of exercise that is perfect for older people. To get started you could try this chair based Pilates video workout from the NHS.

  • Dancing – Dancing is a great way of staying fit physically, but it also has the additional benefits of improving social and emotional well being as well and some research has found that dancing can improve your brain too. There’s lot of different dance styles you can try from Zumba, to jazzercise, ballet, or ballroom dancing. The most important thing is to enjoy it!

    You could try some of the videos below to see what you like and get you started:
  • Zumba gold for older adults and beginners by Central YMCA
  • Low impact senior exercise dance at home by MUVEmethod
  • Beginners ballet exercises for seniors and beginners by Ballet Based Movement
  • How to waltz dance for beginners – waltz box step by Learn to Dance

  • Leg raises – Leg raises are a great form of exercise as they can help strengthen and tone muscles –some of them can even be done whilst lying down, which is perfect for when you’re just starting to exercise again.
    Some examples of leg exercise videos on YouTube can be found below:
  • Important seated leg exercises for seniors by More Life Health Seniors
  • Low impact lying down exercises by the MS Society

  • Cycling – If you have an indoor exercise bike, you can cycle from the comfort of your home and it is great for getting your heart pumping, increasing your aerobic exercise getting fit. Indoor exercise bikes can be costly and take up a lot of room, however if you do fancy having a go why not try a under desk pedal exerciser which folds away,  you can use from the comfort of your armchair and costs a fraction of the price – you can get an under desk pedal exerciser on Amazon for under £30.

  • Tai chi This is a martial art which combines breathing and relaxation with flowing movements and is a great exercise for older people as it has been shown to lower stress, improve balance and posture and can help to increase the strength in your legs. You could try some tai chi videos from Age UK to get you started.

Remember it’s important that when you start exercising you don’t overdo it, or seek advice from your doctor before you begin. Start slowly and you’ll notice that your strength, stamina and fitness begin to improve over the weeks as you continue to exercise. With a variety of low impact exercises to choose from, you could begin to create a plan and try out different exercises to see what you enjoy.

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Next steps

Exercise advice for people over 65

Living an active lifestyle is a good idea for all of us, with even small levels of exercise and activity massively contributing to overall physical and mental health.

Keeping fit whilst staying at home

Looking after your physical health whilst staying at home is really important. Why not try some of the ideas in this blog and get moving!

Healthy eating

Find out information about eating healthily, making changes to your diet to benefit your health and a range of top tips.

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