Getting older can mean welcoming grandchildren and an active retirement. But it can also bring the challenge of joint pain and diminishing mobility. This is especially frustrating for active people over 50. Joint pain doesn’t have to mean abandoning vigorous physical activity. Exercise is good for you, so try some low impact sports that won’t hurt your knees. Always check with your doctor before starting any kind of exercise regimen.
Water buoys you up and takes the pressure of your bodyweight off your knees and hips. Although it’s easy on the joints, the water provides substantial resistance to build strength and endurance, and a good cardio workout as well. Watch out for the breaststroke, though, because of the flinging, circular motion of the kick.
Increasing flexibility and building muscle support for joints are some of the many benefits of yoga. Its slower pace and focus on breathing can reduce stress and improve relaxation. Some forms of yoga move more quickly through poses, offering a little cardio exercise as well.
Although golf can strain your shoulders and back, the walking involved can alleviate minor knee pain. You’ll be walking on a soft grassy surface on the golf course, reducing the impact on your knees.
You can get the same kind of aerobic workout from cycling as you do with running, without the wear on your knees. Biking works the heart, lungs, and leg muscles without imposing weight on the knee joints. Building the leg muscles can provide additional support for the knee joints.
Seniors without balance issues can try a variety of types of cycling, from leisurely rides around the neighborhood to trail and mountain biking. Road bikes put your body at a low angle when you’re reaching down to the handlebars, so people with back issues might choose a more upright style. Cycling has many health benefits similar to higher impact aerobic activities.
At the gym or on the water, rowing provides a major workout akin to cycling, in that you get a lot of work in the legs without the impact on the knees. Rowing also builds upper body strength—it’s a full-body workout. If you haven’t been exercising recently, you’ll have to start slowly and build endurance gradually.
It’s possible to stay fit with low impact sports that don’t hurt your knees. Taking up a new form of exercise in retirement can boost your mood and improve your overall health.