UK HealthCare

The importance of exercise as you age

women walking outdoors
DisobeyArt, iStock/Getty Images Plus.

The University of Kentucky Public Relations and Strategic Communications Office provides a weekly health column available for use and reprint by news media. This week's column is by Dee Dlugonski, Ph.D., assistant professor of athletic training in the UK College of Health Sciences and coordinator for the Active Women’s Health initiative with the UK Sports Medicine Research Institute.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 7, 2022) As you age, it is important to create healthy habits and make exercise a priority in your daily life. It is never too late to begin! Regular physical activity and exercise helps improve both mental and physical health, which can help you maintain independence as you grow older.

Low-impact exercises are a great way to increase your heart rate and stay active without putting too much stress and pressure on your body and joints, making them ideal for people with conditions such as arthritis, mobility problems, or aches and pains.

There are four categories that low-impact exercises can fall into: endurance, strength, flexibility and balance. Incorporating all four types of exercise into your routine helps reduce the risk of injury and keeps you from getting bored.

Some ideas of low-impact exercise that will get you started on your health journey include:

Walking. Experts have said that walking could be the best exercise for older adults. It's an effective way to reduce the risk for chronic conditions. Getting out on the trails and getting fresh air is also extremely beneficial to your mental health as well.

Swimming. Also known as a "no-impact" workout because the buoyancy of the water counteracts gravity. For those with back pain or joint pain, swimming or even water aerobics provides a great way to tone up and slim down.

Yoga. Yoga aids in flexibility, strength and balance and improves your core muscles, which are vital in stability and coordination. This can help limit the risk of falling as well.

Strength training. Using small dumbbell weights or resistance bands during a workout presents a low-impact way to increase your overall strength.

No matter which type of exercise you choose, talk with your doctor to make sure that it is safe for you to participate. Start with a small goal and increase once you see some success. Most of all, find an activity you enjoy and have fun while you reap the benefits of an active lifestyle!

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.