Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on March 03, 2021
Walking

Walking

1/10

The benefits of taking a brisk 30-minute stroll each day are boundless: boosted blood flow, stronger heart and bones, better sleep and mental health, and even a lower risk of dementia. Plus, there’s no special equipment needed -- just lace up your sneakers, step outside, and go.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi

2/10

Tai chi uses slow, gentle, intentional movements to ground both your body and mind. You can do tai chi anywhere, including outside. In addition to cutting stress, this “meditation in motion” can improve upper- and lower-body strength, make you more flexible, and boost your balance.

Biking

Biking

3/10

Strap on a helmet and hit the bike path to build strength, work the muscles that maintain balance, and improve your cardiovascular health. If you deal with back pain or need to reduce your risk of falls, try a recumbent bike, which uses three wheels, sits low to the ground, and has a seat you can lean against.

Gardening

Gardening

4/10

Can you dig it? The regular practice of gardening gets you out into fresh air, into nature, and moves your body enough that it can help you prevent osteoporosis and lower your risk of some diseases like cancer, type 2 diabetes, depression, and heart disease.

Playing With Children

Playing With Children

5/10

Sometimes, physical activity can look like a game of catch in the front yard with a neighbor or building a snowman with your grandkids. Time with kids not only keeps your body active, it stimulates your mind, too.

Golf

Golf

6/10

You can walk up to 4 miles during an 18-hole game of golf. Your heart gets even more of a workout if you’re carrying clubs while you do it. Take care to stretch and use proper positioning as you swing to avoid injury.

Tennis

Tennis

7/10

Time on the tennis court helps build your cardio endurance by getting your breathing rate up in short bursts. It improves the health of your lungs, heart, and blood flow. Find someone to play with who can match your skill set, and get swinging. If you have a health condition like osteoporosis, check with your doctor first to be sure that a high-impact sport like tennis is safe for you.

Swimming

Swimming

8/10

When the weather’s warm enough, laps in an outdoor pool are a great way to work on your cardio endurance while keeping the stress on your body low. You should even be able to do it safely if you’re in cardiac rehab after a heart problem. Not a swimmer? Try walking across the pool in shallow water.

Water Aerobics

Water Aerobics

9/10

A workout in water using floats for resistance takes pressure off joints while you build muscle tone. It can also improve bone health after menopause and prevent you from being disabled as your body ages.

Yoga

Yoga

10/10

With a soft mat, you can enjoy yoga outdoors in the sun and fresh air. The simple stretches of yoga boost your blood flow and can ease arthritis symptoms, help your heart, improve sleep, and lower stress.

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SOURCES:

Arthritis Foundation: “12 Benefits of Walking.”

Harvard Medical School: The health benefits of tai chi,” “Golfing can be good for you if done correctly.”

Geriatric Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation: “Geriatric Cyclists: Assessing Risks, Safety, and Benefits.”

American Council on Exercise: “What’s the best piece of cardio equipment to use?”

SAGE Open Medicine: “Positive aging benefits of home and community gardening activities: Older adults report enhanced self-esteem, productive endeavours, social engagement and exercise.”

National Institute on Aging: “Fun Ways for Older Adults to Stay Physically Active.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Swimming: Joint-friendly and Good for Your Heart.”

CDC: “Health Benefits of Water-based Exercise.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “9 Benefits of Yoga.”