Maintaining a healthy weight and a toned body is about more than sit-ups and long runs. Health care professionals will tell you that a trim form is also dependent on eating right, getting plenty of sleep, and approaching life with a positive outlook. If you’re unable to engage in the kind of strenuous workout that gets your blood pumping and your heart racing, you can still expect to lose weight and strengthen your muscles by combining more moderate forms of physical activity with good personal habits and common sense decisions about self-care.
Fortunately, there are plenty of low impact forms of exercise that can boost the metabolism and keep your joints and muscles flexible without risking injury or exacerbating a pre-existing medical condition. Consider the following suggestions if you’re unable to engage in a vigorous exercise program.
You’ve been doing it all your life and always benefit from it, probably without even realizing it. Walking, one of the simplest and easiest forms of exercise, is an ideal low-stress exercise you can do without placing undue strain on the heart, the knees or ankles. And it’s enjoyable: You can take a relaxing stroll in your favorite surroundings (a nearby woods, favorite park or just around the neighborhood). If you have a dog, bring him along for company. Some people add ankle weights to kick it up a bit, though this may not be advisable (or possible) depending on your condition.
Strength-training exercises are among the best ways to work the body without placing an undue amount of strain on your system. It’s easily done in the comfort of your home, sitting or standing, with minimal (and affordable) equipment, like resistance bands, free weights, or kettlebells. Isometric exercises are another excellent low-impact option that can be done virtually anywhere. Resistance-based exercise also strengthens tendons and ligaments, which protects you from a litany of potential injuries.
This ancient combination of physical fitness and mental discipline is an ideal activity for anyone who’s restricted from doing high-intensity exercising. Tai chi is also known to be effective at relieving stress and muscle tension, improving flexibility, and can even provide relief if you suffer from headaches. It’s a regimen that takes you through a series of fluid, graceful movements, each one related to a specific physical benefit.
Not unlike tai chi, yoga is a mental/physical discipline that builds strength and enhances flexibility through a routine of deliberate poses and stretching. Be careful – there are different kinds and some are more intense and physically demanding than others. Talk to your doctor before beginning a class, and consult the instructor beforehand to make sure you won’t be bending yourself in a pretzel knot.
Swimming and water aerobics are ideal for people who are unable to do strenuous exercises. Swimming builds lung capacity, strengthens and tones upper-body muscles, and enhances muscle flexibility. Water aerobics are a fun way to stay healthy and lose weight, and an activity you can enjoy with friends.
A Word on Gut health
The science concerning gut bacteria has shown that maintaining a healthy balance between good and bad bacteria is important to your overall health and fitness. Good gut health plays a key role in maintaining a healthy weight, affects your mood, stamina, and even impacts skin health.
If gut health is a concern, consider including probiotics like fermented foods (i.e. sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt) or prebiotics like xylooligosaccharides (XOS) in your diet. Present in foods like rice bran, bamboo shoots and milk, XOS has been proven effective at keeping your gut microbiome healthy. If you opt to use a supplement, be sure to speak with your doctor first.
Exercise, diet, sleep and lifestyle choices all play a part in achieving good health and keeping your weight under control. Low-impact exercises provide many metabolic and muscular benefits, while prebiotics and probiotics can also help maintain a healthy weight level and keep your gut health in check.
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