As we age, many of us will find it progressively harder to engage in cardiovascular exercise. While a great deal of this may have to do with our general cardiovascular health, there is a lurking variable: the type of exercise we choose to engage in. While activities like running, playing team sports or climbing are fantastic for cardiovascular benefit, they do take a toll on our skeletal and muscular systems.

Simply put, as we age, our joints, bones and muscles may grow more sensitive to frequent use, making it far harder to engage in the sorts of high-impact exercise that we once did regularly with little problem. This doesn't mean that we can't find great cardiovascular benefits in low-impact options, though. Take a look at these activities that are perfect for boosting cardiovascular health.


While it may seem more like a means of transportation than a method of exercise, regular walking can offer substantial cardiovascular benefits. Best of all, you hardly need anything besides comfortable clothing, a decent pair of athletic shoes and a sense of direction. It's also simple to fit walking into your day in moments where you're also doing something else. Extend the dog’s daily walk and get a workout while doing so, or push the kids in the stroller to boost your heart health without hurting your joints. As Greatist points out, walking can also be modified for added difficulty by incorporating dumbbells, ankle weights or other accessories into your routine.


Swimming has emerged as a favorite no-impact exercise for people with sensitive joints or bones, since the buoyant water provides resistance and helps support your weight. In addition to being a great workout for your cardiovascular system, swimming can also help you to quickly build strength and muscle, which, in turn, may actually help to reduce joint or bone pain in some individuals. When starting a swimming regimen, it's important to remember to build up slowly, starting with only the amount of distance or laps that you're comfortable with and moving forward from there over time.


Shape recommends cycling for individuals looking for a low-impact cardiovascular workout. This activity not only increases your cardiovascular conditioning greatly but can also be a wonderful social pastime. Grab a group of friends and take to the streets or the trails to see some new scenery while getting in shape. Also, almost all gyms have stationary bikes, so you can keep the workout going through the winter, either on your own or as part of a spin class.

For more on exercising for heart health:

Another Reason to Exercise: Reduce Depression, Improve Heart Health
Safely Exercising with Atrial Fibrillation
Exercise at Home: Get Moving Without Equipment