Although high-impact sports and activities burn more calories than low-impact ones, there’s also an increased chance for injury associated with the fast-paced approach. The amount of impact that may occur on aging joints, knees, hips and other body parts with regular high-impact activities can be magnified to severe levels if left unchecked.
If you’re near sixty years old and you’ve maintained your stamina through years of high-impact activity, such as regular tennis matches or distance running in marathons, it’s time to think about scaling back to shorter and fewer events and opt for those that occur during the mildest weather months to preserve your joints. A gradual shift from high to low-impact activity is the best approach, since your body has become accustomed to regular aerobic activity and will respond better to a gentle and slow transition to preserve your overall endurance levels.
Supplement the activity with some quality pool time or sign up for an aquatics aerobics class to keep the blood flowing with a comfortable series of laps, strokes and breathing techniques that give the body a gentle and rejuvenating workout. A low-impact fitness program or class is another way to transition from high-impact activities that spawn minor aches and pains or leave you out of breath. Here are a few that are worth considering.
Pilates – Originally designed to give dancers muscle strength without bulk, Pilates was largely ignored by the general public for almost a century. With a growing acceptance by gyms, almost 40% of facilities offer Pilates as a regular exercise class. Pilates is a body conditioning system made up of various exercises that help mature adults build strength by improving flexibility, agility and economy of motion. Pilates can even help alleviate chronic ailments and back pain – all without building excess bulk. It has also been noted that with this type of fitness program there is often a marked improvement in posture and an increase in joint stability.
Yoga – The 5,000-year-old stretching and relaxation techniques in the yoga/tai chi category boasts over 11 million followers, almost double the 5.7 million who participated in 1998. It is an ideal way for mature adults to maintain a fitter body, calmer mind and feel more relaxed. Studies have shown that Yoga can normalize your blood pressure and even balance your nervous system all while using breathing techniques to cleanse your air passages; this cleansing also helps mature adults prevent respiratory ailments.
Elliptical Trainers and Recumbent Bikes – More than 10 million Americans currently use elliptical trainers, a knee-friendly cross between a stair climber and a cross-country-ski machine. That’s a surge of 177% over the 1998 level of 3.9 million — and a sign that elliptical trainers have passed the litmus test of health club acceptance. More than 10 million Americans now recline while they pedal using recumbent bikes, an increase of about 50% since 1998. Not only are these machines more comfy than ordinary exercise bikes for mature adults, they also alleviate considerable amounts of stress off achy lower backs.
Tai Chi – This ancient Chinese martial arts program is said to help mature adults improve their balance and potentially avoid falls. According to Mayo Clinic research one of out every three adults 65+ is involved in an accident resulting in a fall. The slow, gentle and soothing movements of Tai Chi help older adults develop stronger muscles, improve balance control, enhance concentration and stabilize psychological well-being. The movements and philosophy of Tai Chi also teach one to relax, slow down, coordinate the mind and body and improve posture.
By paying attention to your body’s subtle clues, you’ll be able to recognize the signs that point to slowing down your pace. Scale down your workout incrementally so your body will adjust to the changes while retaining muscle tone.
Cross-training will also ease the transition from high to low impact, by working both ends toward a favorable middle ground. In doing so, you maximize the benefits of high-impact workouts, like better bone density, while minimizing your chance of sprains and other injuries. When combining both high and low-impact repetitions throughout the workout, monitor your vital signs and any pain associated with your cross-training routine to determine where the line of demarcation needs to be drawn.
Another way to even the odds is with a low-impact cardio workout, which keeps the heart rate elevated, a necessary component to burning calories. For every pound of fat that you plan to lose, you will need to burn 3,500 more calories than you eat. Exercises that are high intensity burn more calories in the same amount of time than low-intensity exercises do. However, you can adjust your own level of intensity, whether performing low or high impact movements, which ultimately determines the amount of calories you will burn. It’s helpful to monitor your heart rate before, during and after any type of workout in order to adequately maintain your target aerobic zone – a necessary component for burning fat.
Depending on how fit you are(Read about Fitness over fifty) , it can take between ten to thirty minutes of moderate exercise to experience an endorphin rush in the brain. This process enhances the immune system while promoting the natural chemical reaction to treat depression and anxiety and for general brain health. It is important to deliver a healthy level of aerobic activity to your brain, since it plays a part in the delivery of blood, oxygen and nutrients to every cell in the body.