Gentle exercise routines without the gym
January 4, 2021 12:53 PM   Subscribe

I have been calorie counting for a while and would like to add an exercise routine to my life. I am a forty year old female who currently weighs about 170 lbs (down from 210). I still have some knee and foot problems so I am looking for something that will be easy on the joints. I thought about swimming, but with the covid situation I don't feel comfortable going to the pool. My main goal is to improve/maintain my flexibility and build some stamina so I don't feel so winded going up and down the stairs or chasing my cats around the house.
posted by MaryVictoria to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: The NY Times just posted a gentler version of its 7-minute workout, friendlier for folks with join pain and such. This helpful article also talks about the benefits of "exercise snacks," which is to say, benefits of incorporating some exercise in very small doses into your daily life (like cat chasing!).

Flexibility is great, but really it would be great to think about strength, increasing your strength and then maintaining it for the sake of aging and bone density. We start losing strength in our 40s if we're not very careful, and improving strength can also help with stamina and flexibility.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:03 PM on January 4, 2021 [2 favorites]


Best answer: After many decades of sports and weight training, I'm a big fan of "going slow to go fast." A combination of walking and focused strength training would be a great start. The single exercise that had the biggest positive impact on my feeling winded and stair-climbing was squats. You can start with body-weight squats or walking lunges (which simply means your body + gravity are the main 'weights') and you can then include various positions and/or weights as the pure squat gets easier for you. For walking, I recommend focusing first on time spent walking and increasing it gradually, before you consider picking up the speed. Speed and intensity after a certain age are a recipe for injury until you've got a good foundation.

Some stabilizing exercises would be good too - ankle, knee, hip, shoulders. You can often do these while waiting in line or watching tv if you want. Then once you're ready to pick up the pace and intensity, these more vulnerable joints will be stronger. Look for exercises like a single leg deadlift, the clam, deadbugs/bird-dogs, hip flexor stretches, lateral band walks, plank,
posted by cocoagirl at 1:17 PM on January 4, 2021 [3 favorites]


I follow my mom's fitness instructor on Facebook, where she livestreams live exercise classes regularly. You can view her whole archive of streams, you don't have to do the live classes. Her pre-COVID focus was on healthy motion for overweight or older individuals who weren't well served by traditional fitness, including those with join injuries -- I used to sometimes go to her knee-problem specific classes, for example. If you're interested, and use Facebook, let me know by MeMail and I can PM you a link to the group. I'm not sure how widely she wants it shared, so I'd prefer not to post it publicly.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:20 PM on January 4, 2021 [2 favorites]


Walking, just fast and long enough to work up a bit of a sweat. 30 minutes of it is enough to get the metabolic benefits.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 1:42 PM on January 4, 2021 [1 favorite]


Best answer: I have discovered that a lot of "low impact" workouts on youtube mean "lower impact than a burpee" and are not truly low impact. Yoga video terminology is all over the spectrum; there is no way to know what you will get out of a yoga video without watching it.

After a lot of experimentation, these are things that I have found that do NOT hurt my wrists and knees:
* Hula hooping!
* Rowing machine. We got one for $200 and I love it. I can work up a full body sweat without hurting my knees.
* Walking.

After reading the excellent book The First 20 Minutes, I've been a fan of prioritizing balance over flexibility. Good balance is what will prevent falls and injuries. This balance video is by Dr Joe, who has many delightful videos about exercising without injury.
posted by tofu_crouton at 1:57 PM on January 4, 2021


My pick is something fun that you wont feel exercised after doing like a nature hike (weather permitting) or roller skating. Some cities still have rinks open weeknights or afternoons for a couple hours of fun cardio
posted by The_imp_inimpossible at 3:50 PM on January 4, 2021 [1 favorite]


I'm a big fan of a subscription program called Momma Strong. You definitely don't need to be a Mom to do it, but it is targeted at women who are trying to get back into exercising in a realistic and gentle way. Everyday, there's a new 15 minute video, of exercises you can do at home with simple equipment. There are also some separate programs focused on fixing common issues. You can try out a sample video here.
posted by tinymegalo at 4:02 PM on January 4, 2021 [3 favorites]


Biking or rowing
posted by oceano at 4:24 PM on January 4, 2021 [1 favorite]


I do some fairly gentle yoga (well, my teacher mixes yoga and pilates stuff together). It is good for flexibilty and building strength gently in a way that also gives more support to those areas that need it (e.g. joints). While it isn't cardio at all, I have found that the overall health benefits include better stamina for things such as stairs. I notice the difference even when I just do it once a week but regularly.

I never thought of myself as a yoga or pilates 'person' and so it may be about finding the right class for you if you haven't thought of yourself that way either - mine is local (though currently online) so I won't share here. I found I like someone whose voice I don't mind listening to and who offers good variations so I can mix it up depending on my energy levels that day, so that I can either push myself more or have a more restorative session.

For online, everyone recommends Yoga with Adrienne who I didn't like so much, but I did like Cat Meffen more (link is to a beginners 30 min session, I like her wake-up, relax and 'for hips' etc ones, I haven't tried the power ones or flow ones much).
posted by AnnaRat at 6:03 PM on January 4, 2021


This is my Broken Leg Recovery youtube playlist. It has a range of exercise videos which I've been doing since I broke my leg in November. Some of my friends with chronic knee injuries have been using it as well. Some are relatively easy, some are very difficult-- but you may find something there.
posted by frumiousb at 6:27 PM on January 4, 2021 [1 favorite]


Best answer: I've been doing four non-gym forms of exercise depending on the weather:

1) Biking a local easy-grade nature trail
2) Walking the neighborhood (I've learned cemeteries are particularly peaceful to walk around in as long as you don't get lost as they don't have the traffic and dog presence of other areas)
3) I bought a fold-up glider elliptical for my house (it's nowhere near as nice as the $12K gym ones, but it also costs ~$150 new and mine was secondhand on Facebook Marketplace for $30)
4) I bought hand weights, a foam roller, and a foldable foam pad for my house and use the latter two for stretching

All of these are easy on the joints; I also need low-impact exercise.
posted by vegartanipla at 7:39 PM on January 4, 2021


Best answer: I also have joint issues and need low impact exercise. For aerobic workouts, I've had luck searching for "low impact workout" and "beginner" or "senior" (even though I'm not a senior). I also have no problem with resting or stepping during parts of a workout that I shouldn't do, or just don't want to do :)

Here are some workouts I've found that worked for me. Most include walking/stepping moves with no (or optional) jumping or jogging.
posted by loop at 8:54 PM on January 4, 2021 [1 favorite]


Upright stationary cycle or regular cycling outdoors. Upright cycle is not as strenuous on the knees and as you improve fitness you can crank up the resistance level to build more strength and endurance.

I would also walk as often as you can. Walking (weight-bearing) trumps cycling (non-weight bearing) for building fitness. As you strengthen your knees with exercise you can incorporate more stair walking to build more endurance, or add in jogging intervals to your walking. Walking plus cycling would be a nice mix.
posted by loveandhappiness at 7:44 AM on January 5, 2021


Best answer: I had a conversation with my allergist last year (I get allergy shots) where she asked how I was doing, and I said I felt pretty good symptom-wise, but stairs were still hard, I was winded when I got to the top of the flight from my apartment (below street level) to the driveway.

She gave me this look, and said "Stairs are hard for everyone. Don't use that as your goal."

Folks, I had been beating myself up for not being good at stairs for 25 years. Maybe I didn't need to do that. Now I use other stuff to judge how my lungs and body are doing, even if I do have to climb stairs sometimes.

I started doing regular video based walking in November, and that's been going pretty well. I usually hate listening to the music (and especially the perky cheering on), so I stick it on my computer so I can see the pace, turn the sound off, and listen to a podcast instead.

Besides Leslie Sansone, I've been really liking Keoni Tamayo (Reps to the Rhythm) who's got a mix of lengths, enough step variation to feel interesting without being too complicated (though some stuff I ignore the arm motions because I can't arm and leg at the same time), and bonus adorable cats around the edges of many of the videos.

YouTube also has a ton of "here's a walk through a bit of pretty countryside" videos of various lengths. I'm fond of The Country Traveller (mostly the New Forest, in England, but not just that) which often includes Edith, his miniature Schnauzer. (Ok, I am apparently motivated by animals in my workout videos.) When I want something lower key, I'll do one of those and just walk in place or with simple step changes for the length of the video.
posted by jenettsilver at 9:22 AM on January 5, 2021 [1 favorite]


If you like video games, consider the Nintendo Switch and "Ring Fit Adventure", which leads you through exercises so you win points and jog through landscapes, beat monsters, etc. with the power of calisthenics. You buy some controllers, and you strap one to your leg and hold the other one in a flexible wheel that you push and pull. Maybe watch a few videos online first to see if it's likely to be something you would like.
posted by brainwane at 12:22 PM on January 5, 2021 [1 favorite]


Yoga with Adrienne is popular for pretty good reason. She's a good teacher, very supportive and positive, and leaves a lot of room with alternatives to start gradually or work a little harder, as you feel that day.
posted by spbmp at 5:46 PM on January 8, 2021


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