Low-impact exercises are ideal if you want to stay physically active without putting a higher pressure on your body. Even though they are significantly easier on the body, these exercises can effectively help you boost your fitness level and your overall health. Low-impact workouts can help you burn calories and lose weight, strengthen your muscles, improve your flexibility and balance, as well as reduce stress level.
Technically, engaging in a low-impact physical activity means that at least one of your feet will remain in contact with the ground. Of course, this doesn’t exclude the possibility of a high-intensity workout. You can actually work up a sweat and get your heart rate up during a low-impact cardio exercise.
When to Consider Low-Impact Exercises
Engaging in high-impact exercises is not for everyone. Not everybody can or needs to run at a fast pace, do jumping jacks or knee-highs. It’s recommended to consider low-impact workouts if you:
- suffer from arthritis, osteoporosis or other joint-related pain
- have injuries in your bones or joints
- are considerably overweight
- are just beginning to exercise
- have a certain heart condition, and working out at high intensity is not entirely safe
- are pregnant
- simply feel the need to take a break from high-impact exercises
Low-Impact Outdoor Exercises
Walking is without a doubt the easiest and most popular low-impact exercise. Unlike running for instance, it puts less stress on your joints and muscles and comes with a lower risk of injury. Over the years, studies have acknowledged the numerous health benefits of walking. Walking is great no matter if your goal is to boost your cardiovascular health, lose weight or improve your mental wellbeing.
If you’re worried about the lack of intensity of your walks, there are elements you can incorporate into your workout to get your heart pumping and burn more calories. For example, you can pick up the pace and start walking faster from time to time, add interval training, walk uphill or add extra weight like a weighted vest or a weighted backpack. Another simple thing you can do is extend the duration of your walking sessions.
To make the most of your walks it’s best to keep track of your activity. You can easily do this with the aid of a pedometer app, such as our own ActivityTracker. This way you’ll be able to instantly get relevant fitness stats, such as the steps taken, distance covered, calories burned or active time. At the same time, you’ll have the chance to set your own goals, monitor your progress along the way and find the motivation to stay on track.
Just like walking, hiking is one of those low-impact aerobic exercises great for both the body and the mind. Hiking is a type of physical activity that requires work from various muscle groups, including your glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings, and is great for improving your posture, balance and coordination. You can intensify your workout and make your muscles work even harder by hiking over uneven terrain, by using poles, heading for the hills or adding some extra weight.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, hiking does not generate only physical benefits. This aerobic exercise is at the same time truly beneficial for the mind. Hiking is an activity that requires spending time in the middle of nature, and this can do wonders for the brain. A recent study shows that, spending time in a green environment, surrounded by beautiful sights, by nature’s sounds and smells, can combat stress and anxiety and implicitly improve the mood. So what are you waiting for? Take a hike!
Cycling is also a low-impact workout, which means it puts less pressure on your body and causes less injuries in comparison to other activities. Riding your bike on your favorite trail is first of all fun, pure fun. But it is also an effective workout. Cycling is great for toning up your body, since it works all major muscles groups, for improving your stamina and strength, your cardiovascular fitness or for keeping your weight under control.
And it gets better. If you use your bike on a daily basis to commute to work, major benefits await you. According to research, cycling to work can significantly lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer in comparison to inactive commuting. Another study showed that biking to the office is an effective way to alleviate stress and improve your work performance.
If you want to do something different and escape the monotony of your workouts, why not jump in the water? Swimming is a great way to have fun and stay fit at the same time. This is a full-body workout, since you move your entire body against the resistance of the water, and an efficient cardio exercise that gets your heart pumping.
Swimming has lots of benefits. It can help you tone your muscles, build strength and endurance, improve your flexibility, as well as keep healthy vital organs such as the heart and lungs. Of course, one of the essential advantages of this sport is the fact that the water will take the pressure off of your joints, turning it into a truly low-impact exercise.
Low-Impact Indoor Exercises
Step aerobics is a type of workout that requires stepping up and down on a small elevated platform. Of course, this is a low-impact activity, since you get to keep one foot on the ground at all times. Step aerobics, also known as step training, comes with a multitude of benefits. It ensures an intense cardio workout, it burns calories and reduces body fat, it builds strength and improves your balance and coordination.
At the same time, step aerobics can have a positive effect on your mood. According to research, this form of exercise can effectively combat depression and reduce the level of tension, anger and fatigue.
One of the best low-impact workouts you can get is by jumping on a cardio machine like an elliptical or a treadmill. The main advantage of the elliptical trainer over the popular treadmill is its low impact. When you use the elliptical, your feet are always on the pedals. Therefore there’s significantly less pressure on the major joints. There’s even a study to back this up.
In addition to being low-impact, the elliptical machine comes with a series of other benefits. It allows you to improve your cardiovascular fitness, to burn calories and body fat, get a full-body workout, build stamina and endurance and many more.
Using a rowing machine can be a great way to stay in shape without putting too much pressure on your joints. Besides being low-impact and having a reduced risk of injury, hopping on such a machine at the gym or at home can benefit you from multiple perspectives.
First of all, it’s important to mention that during a rowing session you get to work 86% of your body muscles. It’s not exactly a neglectable number, right? In addition to ensuring a total body workout, the rower can also help you burn an important amount of calories, strengthen your cardiovascular health, tone your legs, as well as improve your posture.