Is low-intensity exercise really beneficial?

Is low-intensity exercise really beneficial?

Created date

September 27th, 2019
Five older adults practice tai chi.

Regular low-intensity exercise leads to improved flexibility, balance, and muscle strength as well as enhanced mood.

It’s no secret that physical exercise promotes physical and cognitive health in older adults, but does low-intensity exercise make an impact? 

In a report by Andy C. Y. Tse, Thomson W. L. Wong, and Paul H. Lee entitled “Effect of Low-Intensity Exercise on Physical and Cognitive Health in Older Adults: A Systematic Review,” the researchers summarized the findings of 15 selected studies and determined that, yes, indeed it does.

Their report found that “low-intensity exercise offers both physical and cognitive health benefits to older adults….is useful to induce health benefits for high-risk populations such as physically frail older adults [and]….induces better exercise adherence as relative to moderate- and high-intensity exercise.”

Out of the 15 selected studies, 11 reported improvement in flexibility, balancing, lower limb muscle strength, or depressive symptoms by low-intensity exercises.

This isn’t news to the fitness professionals at Lantern Hill, a continuing care retirement community in New Providence, N.J. Their state-of-the-art fitness center offers several types of low-intensity exercise classes a week.

Full and varied fitness schedule

Here are a few of the classes you can find on their weekly fitness schedule: yoga, gentle yoga, mat Pilates, tai chi, Low and Slow, aqua fitness, line dancing, and table tennis. 

Several residents actually lead the classes: JoAnn Davison heads up table tennis, Charlene Sozansky teaches water aerobics, and Valerie Spangenberg leads meditation. 

Fitness Coordinator Melissa Sullivan, who has been teaching group fitness in the area since 1978, leads many of the classes and says, “The goal of everything I do is to make residents feel better, but the social element is just as important. The connection between the mental and the physical is direct. When I look out and see the entire class smiling and laughing, I feel incredible. It’s very rewarding.”

Lantern Hill’s newest residence building, Bell Pavilion, adds a second fitness center to the community.

“That particular gym is set up for personal training, and it’s more therapeutic,” says Sullivan, who was involved in planning the new fitness center’s equipment and plans to add more classes to the schedule. 

Bell Pavilion opened in October with 167 brand-new apartment homes.