Low Impact Exercises for Older Adults

Maintaining proper physical health is important for people of all ages. As we age, however, high-impact, high-intensity workouts may become more difficult, and they can pose a serious risk of injury. Luckily, these five low impact exercises for older adults will help you stay active and reduce the stress placed on joints and bones.


Swimming is a great alternative for individuals who want a full-body cardio exercise but can’t stand or walk for long periods of time. The water’s buoyancy relieves the pressure and stress your bones and joints may feel when doing other cardio activities, which effectively reduces the risk of injury for older individuals. The stretching and flexing of leg, arm, back, and shoulder muscles while swimming can also help improve overall flexibility and endurance.

Light strength training

Some individuals may feel that strength training is far beyond their abilities, but a bit of light weight lifting is actually a great low impact exercise for older adults. The key to effective, low impact weight training is to start slow and small. Ditch the heavy dumbbells, and opt for resistance bands instead. They provide many of the same benefits as heavier weights without the added strain and pressure on joints. As with any new exercise, it’s always best to start with shorter intervals and fewer reps.

Water aerobics

Like swimming, water aerobics is a great cardio exercise that’s easy on the joints. Water aerobics provides a full-body workout that combines cardio exercises with strength training. You can easily perform water aerobic exercises with a group or by yourself. Exercising in water creates a light resistance, which can help build your strength and endurance without putting strain on joints. Most water aerobic exercises take place in the shallow area of a pool, so even if you’re not a great swimmer, you can still participate and get a great workout.  


With all the bending, stretching, and contorting, yoga may seem like a difficult activity for those who need low impact exercises. However, yoga is actually a great exercise for older adults. Most yoga poses offer alternative positions for individuals who may need to reduce strain on their joints. When participating in a yoga class, or practicing poses on your own, the most important is to do what feels good for your body. You will see much better results when you cater the poses to your individual needs than you would if you overexert yourself trying to keep up with the instructor.

Elliptical exercises

For those who want to put less strain on their knees and legs, elliptical exercises are the way to go. Unlike a treadmill, the leg and foot remains relatively stationary when exercising on an elliptical, which can reduce pressure on knee joints. Many elliptical machines also encourage individuals to move their arms while exercising. This helps elevate heart rate and leads to a more effective, full-body cardio workout. Ellipticals are very user-friendly and provide an easy-to-use piece of equipment for anyone just beginning their fitness journey. If you’re looking to purchase an elliptical, or other pieces of exercise equipment, stop by one of our stores located in Ann Arbor or the surrounding cities throughout Michigan.