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Low Impact Exercise Guide
Not everyone is cut out for the high-intensity training that many people embrace when they want to look and feel better. Some people need or prefer low impact exercise routines.
A low impact exercise regimen encompasses strength training, endurance, flexibility, and balance. By doing these you will receive health benefits without putting your body at risk of injury or exhaustion.
Low impact exercises are movements that don’t put stress on your body. That means, it’s kind to your joints, bones, and muscles. If you’ve ever felt the pain of working out the following day, then you’ve probably engaged in high impact exercise.
What Are Low Impact Exercises?
Walking is the most prominent low impact exercise. Anyone can walk, anywhere, at any time. You don’t need special equipment, aside from comfortable shoes. You can walk outside, indoors, in place, fast, or slow. It all depends on your comfort level.
Aerobics are often considered high impact because there’s usually a lot of movement and bouncing around. However, there are also low impact aerobic classes, online tutorials and DVDs.
Tai chi is a popular low impact exercise. It’s an ancient Chinese exercise based on slow movement and deep breathing. You will stretch your body and put it in a state of constant motion while keeping your joints protected.
Yoga is another low impact exercise, but don’t mistake it as being easy. The great thing about yoga is that as your fitness level improves, you can stick with the low impact, but increase the calorie burn based on the intensity of your practice.
Pilates is a similar exercise to yoga and tai chi in that you’ll be strengthening your core, but not putting stress on your body. Pilates is a low impact exercise that helps improve strength, flexibility, and posture.
Strength training is very important for good health. You lose more weight with more muscle because muscle burns more calories than fat. You can strength train without injuring yourself and build up to increased reps, sets, and weights over time.
Exercise bikes can be a great way to work in low impact exercise – as long as you choose to use one with low resistance. On most bikes, you can set the resistance level. However, if you do too much at once, you might strain your knees. Make sure to build up your resistance over time.
Elliptical machines can give you a nice, hard workout without any stress on your joints. The elliptical is preferred by many people over the treadmill because the treadmill has a hard surface and the shock of each step can hurt. With an elliptical, it’s like floating in the air – but you’re moving and getting the benefits!
Rowing is a good way to firm up your body and burn calories. You can use a rowing machine in a gym or at home, but you can also take up a sport like kayaking.
There are no right or wrong ways to incorporate low impact exercises.
Table games (such as ping pong) don’t sound like exercise, but they are. They’re considered low impact because both feet are on the ground, you don’t have to put stress on your body. The best part—they’re enjoyable!
Water-based low impact exercises are another great way to tone your body without injury. That could include swimming laps, water aerobics, or strength training. Not only are water exercises good for your body and mind, but most people have a lot of fun while doing them, and it feels relaxing, not strenuous.
Golf is a great sport to start some low impact exercise. People of all ages enjoy this sport. You can walk and play 9-18 holes, or you can ride a cart and still get some of the benefits from each swing, and the steps you take to your ball, the green and the tee box.
Dancing can be a fun way to work in some low impact exercise. You can use dance in many ways. Try a Zumba class, play Kinect or Wii dance games, find a good dance DVD or online video, or just dance around the house
With low impact exercises, its all about getting some movement during your day. You want to push yourself, but you should never physically be in pain when doing this type of workout regimen.
Who Needs Low Impact Exercise?
Senior citizens are often the primary demographic for low impact exercises. As people age, their minds and bodies are not as agile as they once were. They are prone to fractures if they fall and are more likely to injure themselves doing high-intensity workouts. Low impact exercise helps you retain movement without putting yourself at risk.
For individuals who have suffered from a specific injury – or those experiencing pain from a disability – low impact exercise is the perfect workout, especially during a recovery period.
Anyone can do low impact exercises.
Whether you’re restricted to a wheelchair or you have the ability to stand and move, you can enjoy low impact exercise and gain cardiovascular, muscular, and additional health benefits from your efforts.
Arthritis sufferers often feel a lot of pain in their joints. Every movement can be painful, so high impact exercise may be out of the question. Moving your body gently and slowly can enable you to exercise without pain.
Overweight people can suffer from orthopedic injuries if they set out on a high impact exercise regimen right off the bat. The best way for you to go about working out is to ease into a fitness role through activities like walking and swimming.
Pregnant women are often unable to engage in high impact exercise. When you’re pregnant, you can sometimes lose your core balance. Low impact exercise helps prevent falls until the baby arrives. Not only that, but you’ll tire more easily when you’re pregnant. These exercises help you work in movement – plus, ensure the baby will be safe from harm.
There’s another group of people who fit the demographic for low impact exercise – beginners! You never want to engage in difficult, advanced exercise when you’re new because you can injure yourself.
Health Benefits of Low Impact Exercise
There are many benefits to low impact exercise. Exercise, in general, is good for you. When you’re stationary, your body can’t fight disease and repair itself as well as when you get your blood flowing.
Low impact exercise helps with depression. If you suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, stress or depression, then you know the common feelings that come with them.
You feel paralyzed, you might feel lethargic – basically, you don’t want to move. You especially don’t have the heart to embrace a high impact, exhausting routine.
So a low impact exercise regimen can help release endorphins in your body and give you some hope and happiness during your day. It will be even better if you engage in things you find fun (like dancing or swimming), or sign up for a class where you’re socializing with others.
Get that blood flowing.
Low impact exercise improves your reflexes. This can be perfect for those who have suffered an injury – as well as elderly people who have started to see some decline in this area of their lives.
This form of exercise helps with cardiovascular health, even if you’re not vigorously moving about. All you’re doing is shooting for your target heart rate. With high impact activities, you usually go way over that target rate.
Low impact exercise helps lower your blood pressure. Whenever you exercise, you’re strengthening your heart. The heart needs to be strong to pump blood vigorously through your body without working too hard. And exercise helps it get strong.
Weight loss is an obvious benefit to low impact exercise. Any time you’re moving, you’re burning calories. Sedentary individuals are more prone to gain weight and become obese.
It might take a little longer than doing a high impact regimen, but the overall long-term weight loss will be the same if you stick to it and exercise consistently.
Best Low Impact Workout Equipment
Many people who have to (or want to) go on a low impact workout don’t enjoy working out in public. But some love it for the socialization factor. If you don’t have a pool, you can join a place like your local YMCA to get some water-based movement.
As for machines that help you with a low impact workout, you can either use the machines in the gym (with or without supervision by a trainer) or invest in good equipment for your home.
Ellipticals are the most sought-after low impact machines. You can either invest in the foot pedals only or get a full-scale machine that includes movement for your arms.
Do your exercise every day without excuse.
Stationary exercise bikes are perfect for low impact exercise. You have two choices – recumbent or upright. A recumbent bike allows you to sit in more of a bucket seat, where you’re slightly reclined. An upright bike is what you would use when cycling outdoors, only this one is an indoor, stationary version.
Rowing machines are wonderful total body low impact workouts. You can get regular rowers that work with magnets, or you can invest in a water rower that uses fluid as the primary resistance factor.
Stair steppers and stair climbers are loved by many low impact exercise enthusiasts. You might think that stepping upstairs would be high impact, since it tends to wear many people out, but the impact on your joints is actually small.
Of course, you do have the option of increasing the resistance if you start to believe the machine has become too easy on your body – and this is a milestone that you’ll be happy to achieve.
Whether you simply hate exercising or you have a valid reason for avoiding high impact workout, you’ll enjoy becoming addicted to fun, low impact workout. These workouts will get your heart pumping without causing you to wake up the next morning, barely able to move due to stiff or sore muscles.
Amy White, is an author, blogger and personal finance expert with a love of personal development and healthy living. Amy has over 20 years of entrepreneurial experience and loves anything related to building and developing long term business growth. You can follow Amy on her blog Daily Successful Living.