When we imagine the exercise, we usually think of someone running or maybe doing jumping jacks. Both are great forms of exercise. But if those exercises aren't quite right for you, don't worry. High-impact workouts aren't the only way to be physically active. 😉
What are low-impact exercises?
Low-impact exercises are exercises that minimize the stress and pressure placed on your joints.
To be considered low-impact exercises, the moves require you to keep your whole body supported, or have at least one foot in contact with the ground during most movements.
Benefits of low-impact exercise
Less chance of injury 🤕
And, on that note, we want to get into this fantastic benefit of low-impact exercise — less chance of injury.
Now, as with any workout, you still need to use proper form and breathing techniques, but without as much of the impact on your joints and muscles, your body will be put under less stress. Exercises like swimming, for example, are often even suggested to folks who have experienced an injury and want to get their strength back.
They’re easy on your knees — and other joints! 🦵
Your knees can absorb up to three times your body’s weight with high-impact exercise, such as running or plyometrics (which require jumping), and this can put a lot of stress on your joints.
However, low-impact exercises allow you to support your body as you move, without putting additional strain on your joints. That’s good news for your knees — as well as your shoulders and hips!
Improve flexibility 🤸🏼
Many exercises that enhance flexibility are low-impact. For instance, yoga, swimming, and pilates all help to strengthen your core and improve your flexibility, as you get better at the workout.
Since many low-impact exercises are slower and allow for static time in a specific movement, your body has a chance to adjust and get deeper into a stretch. The more you allow for this sort of practice, the more flexible you will be.
Active rest 🚶🏼
Active rest days are sought out by many of us who want our bodies to be able to recover from our workouts, but still want to be productive.
These days are often filled with low-impact exercises like engaging in simple cardio workouts, easy hikes, a light swim, taking a long walk, participating in a yoga class or stretching, or even riding a bike around the neighborhood. So, if you build your workout passion around a low-impact exercise, the chances are that you will also get to do it on your rest days (if your body is telling you to stay active).
You can do them if you’re a beginner or returning to fitness 💪
If you’re new to training or starting again after a break, low-impact exercises can be a good option for kickstarting your fitness journey.
Training with low-impact exercises can also help you build up strength in the muscles surrounding your joints, which can help further support your joint health and range of movement.
Mental health benefits 🧠
Last but not least are the mental health benefits of low-impact exercise, and even exercise in general. Exercise is known to boost your mood, give you energy, help reduce anxiety, and so much more.
Many low-impact exercises can get your heart rate up. Check out our list below.
Note: Before trying any of these exercises, it’s important to talk with your doctor about your physical activity level to determine if these exercises are right for your needs.
- Swimming or water aerobics
- Bodyweight training. Examples include squats, push-ups, and sit-ups
- Elliptical machine