Not all of us are with the bodies suited for high intensity training which a lot of people do in search for getting fit and looking better. There are a lot of people who would need a low impact exercise routine or they may prefer it.
A low impact exercise regime can help with endurance, flexibility, balance and strength training and the best part is that you can get all the healthy benefits of a workout without putting yourself to risk of getting injured or exhausted.
What is Low Impact Exercise
Low impact exercise is a category of exercise which does not overstress your body. This means that this exercise is not harsh on your joints, bones and muscles. You can tell that you have done a high impact exercise, if you feel the pain of workout next day. The benefits of low impact workouts are well documented in scientific research. You can see more scientific references at the end of this article.
Who is Low Impact Exercise For
The primary demographic ideally suited for low impact exercise is that of senior citizens. Aging affects or bodies and we gradually slow down in agility and strength. We get more prone to bone fractures if we fall. Low impact exercise ideally keeps you in movement without putting you to any significant risk.
Those persons who are suffering from any specific injury or those that have pain from some kind disability are also ideal candidates for switching to low impact exercise, more so during their period of recovery from injury
So if you are on a wheelchair or unable to move or stand, these low impact exercises will still give you all the benefits of muscular and cardiovascular and other allied benefits associated with workouts.
Those suffering from arthritis often has severe pain their joints. For these people, all movements can be painful, so these people can not even think of high impact exercise. Their only option for exercise is to move their bodies gently and slowly with low impact activities like swimming and walking.
And people who are very obese also risk getting injured if they right away start with high intensity exercise. The best approach for them is to ease their way into fitness with low impact exercises.
Similarly high impact exercise is out of question for expecting mothers. In fact, during pregnancy women sometimes lose their balance and in such a situation low impact exercise can keep them from falling. And pregnant women also get tired easily and in such a situation you can keep in movement with mild exercise and it also ensures that baby remains safe which might not be case if you engaged in other high intensity exercises like before pregnancy.
And another group who should also consider starting with low impact exercise is beginners. There is risk of injury if you start with advanced level and difficult exercises right at the start.
Health Benefits of Low Impact Exercise
There are many benefits associated with low impact exercise. There is universal agreement that any kind of exercise is good for health. If you remain stationary, you body loses its ability to resist diseases and repair itself because of poor blood flow circulation.
Low impact exercise can help decrease your symptoms of depression. The feeling of lethargy and paralysis can be understood only by those who have suffered from panic attacks, anxiety, depression or stress. Those suffering from such situation definitely do not have the courage or heart to engage in an exhausting exercise routine because they already feel drained.
Low impact exercise can release endorphins in yoru body which are also called happiness hormones. And this can be even more fun if you choose the exercises that you like most for example swimming or dancing. Or may be you consider signing up to a low impact workout program where you can also socialize with other people. Perhaps dance fitness class can be a good idea.
This type of exercise also has positive effects on cardiovascular health, even when you are working out slow. The benefits of exercise start to happen when you reach yoru target heart rate which is quite possible with this type of exercise too because high impact workouts go way over that target rate.
Lowered blood pressure is also one benefit of this kind of workout. All types of exercise strengthen your heart muscles. And a healthy heart is better equipped to supply blood to the other parts of the body and this is possible even without exercising hard.
Another obvious benefit of this type of exercise is weight loss. Of course this is not about how to lose weight fast but whenever you move, you burn calories. Those who are on sedentary lifestyle are more likely to be obese.
Surely it will take longer than in the case with a high impact exercise regime but in the long term weight loss, it will be same if you remain consistent and stick to your routine.
20 Best Low Impact Exercises
- Walking: It is the most commonly known low impact exercise which people use. Almost anyone can walk anytime anywhere and at any speed. No special exercise equipment is required for this other than a pair of comfortable shoes. You can walk anywhere, be it a flat plan or up and down the stairs. You can do this indoors, in park, jogging tracks, and slow or fast. Every option is possible, all depending your own comfort level.
- Low Impact Aerobics: Mostly you will consider these as high impact because in most of the classes, you see a lot of bouncing around, jumping and movement. But low impact aerobics are also an option. There are DVDs available which teach about the low impact type of aerobic exercise.
- Tai Chi: It is one of the most popular low impact exercise. This is an ancient Chinese exercise which is a mix of deep breathing and slow movements. The body is stretched and set in a constant motion during the exercise. But your joints and other impact points on your body remain protected.
- Yoga: It is another popular one but do not consider that it will be easy. One excellent thing about yoga is that it improves your fitness level. It is possible to keep it low impact but still burn calories which depends on which yoga exercises you choose.
- Pilates: This is similar to tai chi and yoga that it helps in core strengthening but still without any stress on your body. You surely get the rewards of a low impact exercise with pilates.
- Swimming: There are many water based exercises which can be ideal for those needing low impact workout. It can be either swimming, water strength training or water aerobics. Water based exercises are not only excellent for body but these are also fun to do. You feel relaxed when you swim and it is also not very strenuous. It is also possible that you can enrol in local classes for these types of exercises.
- Chair Dancing: It might sound childish but it is a lot of fun and from the perspective of low impact workouts, it get the blood flow moving in yoru body. You can do it anytime by still sitting in yoru chair and dancing. Most of the dance movements oare arm movements but your lower body and legs also get some movement. It is possible to get DVD courses for this. This is an ideal kind of workout for those with disabilities or those who are elderly. It is also a suitable exercise for those with morbid obesity for whom it is a big issue to move around.
- Strength Training: This is absolutely recommended for good health and you also lose weight along with muscle building because muscles burn more calories. It is possible to strength train with smaller weights without injuring yourself. You can start small and then build up to to more reps, sets and weights as time passes.
- Table Games: Games like table tennis might not sound much of an exercise but in fact they are. These are low impact because most of the time both the feets are on ground and there is not much stress on the joints or body. These are definitely enjoyable.
- Exercise Bikes: These are excellent tools for low impact workouts but you should choose the low resistance levels. It is possible to customize the resistance levels on most exercise bikes because if you do it with more resistance, it will impact your knees. Take your time to build up your strength and enjoy this stationary exercise in gym or from the comfort of your home.
- Elliptical machines: These are excellent exercise machines which can give you all the benefits of a hard workout without any stress on your joints or bones. The elliptical are preferred over treadmills because the surface on treadmill is hard and it impacts your joints which may hurt with constant shocks. With elliptical, you are kind of floating in the air while still getting the exercise and movement benefits.
- Rowing: This is an excellent way to firm up your body and burn extra calories. It does not mean that you need to be on a river to enjoy this. You can get a rowing machine at a gym or at home.
- Kayaking: If you want to take rowing to the next level of enjoyment then you should get a kayak and jump right in there. It is an excellent calorie burning exercise. You might burn more than 300 calories in one hour of kayaking and beautiful scenery comes as a bonus.
- Golf: This is a well known low impact sport. It is a sport that is enjoyable for all ages – from kids to elderly citizens. You walk and play for 9-18 holes. It is possible to ride a cart too when you are too tired but still you can get the benefits of low impact exercise with your golf swings and the stops that you will be taking to get the ball, the green and the teebox.
- Dancing: It can be a fun home based low impact exercise. It is possible to dance for exercise in may ways like zumba classes, Dance DVDs, Kinect or Wii dance games or simply dancing randomly around the house.
- Stairmaster: There might nobe staircases but most almost all of the modern gyms have Stairmaster and of course it is also a lot more exciting than walking on a treadmill. If you can not find a gym nearby with Stairmaster,you can still do this from home without any equipment.
- Hiking: One excellent way to make your walk more fun is by going for hiking but be sure to choose less steep areas so that the impact on your joints is the minimum and you do not injure yourself.
- Rock Climbing: You can go to a nearby rock climbing facility for this low impact exercise which is typically slower than walking or running but still works many body muscles without any strain.
- TRX: This is also called “total body resistance exercise”. It is actually a strap suspension system that does not stress your joints but still is intensive enough to challenge the whole body muscles.
- Step Aerobics: Step aerobics looks quite easy but it is a very effective workout. You do not need the high impact running. Studies have shown that if you do one hour of step aerobics, you get benefits equal to a reasonable distance of running.
There are no strict rules about right or wrong in low impact exercises. The main idea is to get at least some movement during the day to keep you healthy. You need to keep pushing yourself without getting in pain while you are doing this type of workout.
Best Low Impact Exercise Equipment
A lot of people who either choose low impact exercise by choice or by compulsion do not want to work out in public. Though many want to socialize too. You may join a community pool like the one from YMCA to get the aquatic movement.
When it come to low impact workout machines, it is possible that you use these at a gym or you may get these yourself for working out at home without any excuse of not being able to go to the gym.
The most popular low impact exercise equipment is elliptical. Either you may buy the foot pedals only or you may buy a complete machine which will provide workout possibilities for arms too.
Another perfect type in low impact workout machines are stationary exercise bikes. There are two possible options. One is called upright and the other is recumbent. You get to sit in more of a bucket seat in a recumbent bike with a slightly inclined posture. And in case of upright bike is similar to the one you use for normal cycling outdoors, the only difference being that this one is stationary and indoor.
Stair climbers and stair steppers are two other popular low impact exercise equipments. One may think that stepping on stairs is high impact but with these machines, the impact on joints is really small.
Definitely you can increase resistance levels on these machines when you get strong enough to believe that it has become easier and definitely it is a milestone that will bring you joy.
Whether you have some issues or you hate intense exercises, low impact exercise routine are a lot of fun and you will quickly get addicted to these because these also get your heart pumping without worrying that you will not be able to properly walk the next day, which is the case with high impact exercise initially.