The 5 Best Low-Impact Exercises

If you’re an exercise enthusiast, it might be hard to wrap your mind around the many benefits of low-impact exercise. Far too many fitness junkies believe that your workout needs to be high intensity every single time. While there are countless benefits associated with high-intensity exercise, it’s not the only form out there.

low impact exercise girl

Low-impact exercises are especially useful if you’re recovering from a recent injury. They also serve you well when training for a vigorous event. Incorporating low-impact exercises into your workout regime helps condition your body, repair muscles, and give your body the rest it needs to recover. Want to learn more about some of the best low-impact exercises for overall health and strength? Keep reading!

1. Swimming

Swimming isn’t just for cooling off in the summer months. In fact, it’s one of the best total body workouts around. Not only does it burn more calories than most cardio workouts, but it’s also low-impact — making it the perfect workout for beginners or anyone suffering from an injury or restriction. Swimming requires you to use every muscle in your body, from your arms, shoulders, and back to your core and legs. You’ll notice more definition in your muscles, as well as an increase in lean muscle mass. This means increased strength without the fear of “bulking up”.

If you’ve ever relaxed your body in a pool, lake, or calm ocean, you probably noticed that your body naturally floated to the surface. That’s because, in water, your body becomes more buoyant. This makes it easier to move and reduces pressure placed on your joints and muscles. Water provides an almost weightless environment. But don’t be fooled into thinking swimming is a breeze. It takes hard work, strength, and a healthy heart and lungs. The water also offers natural resistance, which is another added benefit. If you’re looking to enjoy the water without actually getting wet, try kayaking or paddle boarding for the ideal upper body workout! 

2. Rowing

Rowing is a really effective way to get a low-impact, full body workout, while also soaking up some sunlight. This exercise hits the back and shoulder muscles, as well as the core, and even the leg muscles when you are able to to use your legs effectively to push as with rowing machines and on the crew team. There are two main ways to row:

  • a rowing machine at the gym
  • actually rowing in a boat on real water

While the rowing machine might be more boring, it also offers a better full-body workout opportunity than say – rowing around in a kayak. Personally, I would choose the kayak, paddleboard, canoe, or any other floatation device that gets me out of the gym and into the sun.

3. Golf

Who knew that hitting a few balls with your buddies might actually double as a workout? Whether you golf 9 holes or go for the entire 18, golf isn’t just a hobby anymore (or an excuse to drink with friends). It actually doubles as a beneficial low-impact exercise. One of the best ways to earn cardio points is by ditching the golf cart and walking the green. Walking alone is a great low-impact exercise (more on this later). Add golf clubs to the mix and you’re also performing strength training! And let’s not forget about working to perfect that swing. Rotating your torso and using your arms to drive the golf ball to promote both core and arm and shoulder strength. 

4. Yoga

Yoga offers more benefits than one can count. So, it’s no wonder that it’s been a favored exercise for thousands of years. Not only does yoga improve flexibility and balance but it’s also an excellent low-impact workout. Some people are fooled into thinking since yoga isn’t fast-paced that it’s not a sufficient workout regime. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! In fact, you can burn almost 200 calories during an intense yoga session depending on your age, weight, and skill level. The best part is, there are yoga variations for those looking for a more intense experience. Things like hot yoga and power flow yoga are perfect for those with a higher fitness level.

5. Walking

When in doubt, walk it out! Walking is one of the most popular and common forms of low-impact exercise. And one of the main reasons why is its versatility. Not only can people of all ages and abilities enjoy the many health benefits of walking, but it can be done virtually anywhere! At work, you can opt for the stairs over the elevator (just be careful if you have a back or knee injury). Take a walk outside during your lunch break — you’ll not only burn calories but get your daily dose of vitamin D as well! You can walk around your neighborhood, at the park, or research hiking trails in your area. Walking is a great way to remain active while recovering from an injury or for beginners just embarking on their fitness journey.

Low-impact doesn’t mean low-results. All of these exercises (and many more) help you burn calories, build muscle, and remain active without overexerting or hurting yourself. Get creative with your low-impact exercises by finding a friend to join you or find a hobby that doubles as physical activity. 

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