Exercise and aging? They aren’t two terms you frequently hear together. But for seniors, exercise is just as important as it is for the younger crowd when leading a healthy lifestyle. You don’t often see people running marathons over the age of 65 (although sometimes you do! Check this out). Although it’s possible to jog a “cool” 26 when you’re “over-the-hill,” for most of us, the effects of aging bodies means a new definition of exercise.

So what are the best exercises to age with you? When compiling this list we looked at how exercise can not only improve your heart or bones but also help with other not-so-known effects of aging like depression and social isolation. As with any changes in your physical activity, please consult a physician before starting a new regime.

Swimming

Swimming can be a tough workout. It was recently reported that Michael Phelps consumes around 12,000 calories a day...a day! When you’re not training for the Olympics, swimming can provide some great health benefits to your heart and can be as gentle or as intense as you want it to be.

For seniors, swimming is especially beneficial as it provides exercise without stressing the joints. According to a report, staggering 28 million people either have osteoporosis or low bone mass. One of the treatments for osteoporosis is strengthening exercise and swimming can be the answer.

Weight lifting

We’re not talking body-building here, but if that’s your thing, that’s good, too! Remember the 28 million with bone problems? Weight lifting helps develop the muscles around your bones and in turn help strengthen them. It has wonderful benefits for everyone and can be done easily, with little or no equipment.

Have some cans of beans lying around the house? You have some weights! Have some laundry that needs to be taken upstairs? You have a routine! Just simple lifting, even around the house, can have surprising benefits.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an ancient form of exercise developed in China and originally used as a fighting art. For hundreds of years (some say over 1500 years!), people have been relying on Tai Chi for health and emotional benefits. Some call it the meditation exercise. It involves a series of slow moving poses and movements that not only get you moving, but are gentle to aging bodies.

The movements are never forced and the slow nature of performing them can help quiet the mind and create an overall sense of wellness.

Dancing

We forget that dancing is exercise...but it is! And not only is dancing a great calorie burner, it helps you get out and stay social. As we age, changes in social structures—deaths, family moving away and other changes can lead to isolation and in turn, depression. Alternatively, strong social structures are proven to be good for overall wellbeing.

Try taking a community dance class or try dance-based exercise classes like Zumba. You can be as high- or low-impact as you want, adjusting for your athletic level.

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