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50+: Live Better, Longer

6 Low-Impact Exercises as You Age

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By Katherine Tweed
WebMD Feature

As you age, it's a good idea to downshift from high-impact exercises. All that pounding needs to give way to something that's more in line with what your body needs now.

Add these six low-impact moves to your exercise routine. They come from Jacque Ratliff, exercise physiologist and education specialist with the American Council on Exercise.

1. Cat-Camel Stretch

How to Do It: Get on your hands and knees. Place your hands underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips. Put a towel under your knees if you want a little extra padding. Your back should be straight, like a table top. Round your back while tucking your tail under, and hold for 10 seconds. Then open your chest and slightly arch your back. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat the stretch in both directions for 30 to 60 seconds.

Why It’s Good for You: It improves mobility in your spine and stability, Ratliff says. Because you are on all fours, it also engages muscles in your arms and legs. If you can't get on your hands and knees, you can do the move while seated in a chair. It’s also a good warm-up exercise before a walk or other cardio activity.

2. Single Leg Stand

How to Do It: Stand next to a wall or something else sturdy that you can use for support. With your legs hip-distance apart, slowly lift one foot off the ground while keeping your standing leg slightly bent. Engage your abdominals to help with balance. Hold the pose for up to 30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.

Eventually, work your way up to doing this exercise without holding on to anything and standing with your legs together. You can also change up the move to make it more challenging. Lift the elevated leg out to the side or straight up with a bended knee. For an even more advanced move, once your leg is lifted, try closing your eyes.

Why It’s Good for You: It helps your balance.

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