Not all of us are suited to high impact exercises – the kind that get your heart racing, leave you breathless and can put heavy pressure or your joints. There could be a variety of reasons for this, whether it is a previous injury, health issues such as arthritis, pregnancy or something else. It could be that you simply do not enjoy the intensity of a high-impact workout.
Low impact exercises offer an alternative way to keep fit and healthy but in a way that will raise your heart rate steadily, whilst being gentler on your joints. Such exercises still have the power to bring a whole host of benefits to those who consistently make them part of their daily routines. These benefits include improved strength, mobility and flexibility, improved cardiovascular health and reduced risk of injury. So let’s take a look at the types of low-impact exercise you can utilize today for a fitter, healthier you.
Low Impact Exercises
1. Sit and Stand
This sounds like something we do countless times every day, right? This slight variation to your usual position, when repeated as part of your work out will soon get your heart rate up and great for whole body, cardio fitness.
- Start by standing in front of your chair, then extend your arms straight out in front of you, level with your shoulders..
- Bend your knees to allow you to sit back onto the chair, keeping your arms straight out in front of you at all times.
- Return to standing by tilting forward at your hips. You should feel the contraction of your glutes during the movement.
For added difficult, do not allow yourself to fully sit on the chair, instead just touching the seat with your bum and immediately return to standing.
2. Step Downs
Super easy to do at home if you have a step somewhere in/out of your house. The workout is easy on the knees but still targets those all- important muscles that provide you with the strength and movement needed around your knee joints. Particularly useful for regular walkers or runners.
- Stand with one foot on a step and the other off the ground, hanging over the edge of the step.
- Lower the hanging leg to the ground by bending at the knee of the leg on the step.
- Touch your foot to the floor, whilst keeping this leg straight.
- Use the heel of the foot on the step to push your other leg back up into the starting position and repeat.
- Don’t forget to switch legs to balance the exercise.
3. Step Jack
A modification of the jumping jack that means you don’t actually need to jump but instead step into position. Gentler on the knees and suited to those whose cardiovascular fitness may not be ready for greater movement.
- Start by standing tall, feet together, arms down by your sides.
- Step one leg out to the side and at the same time swing your arms out to the sides and up over your head until your hands meet above your head.
- Step your foot back into the middle whilst lowering your arms and repeat but with the other leg.
This useful demonstration encourages you to be ‘powerful’ in your stepping movement to ensure you get the most from the exercise.
4. Squat Jab
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and bend your knees slightly into a quarter squat position.
- Clench your fists by your ribs
- Punch your right arm out in front of you, rotating your first so that your knuckles face upwards when your arm is fully extended.
- Bring your right fist back to your ribs then repeat using your left arm.
Tip: Keep your hips stable so that you do not move side to side or twisting whilst punching and if your finding it difficult to hold the quarter squat position, repeat the arm movements whilst standing straight.
5. Power walking
A great way to boost the usual benefits of walking is to incorporate bursts of a brisker pace. Walking is often a favourable option for low-impact training as most enjoy doing it and there are a number of ways to increase the intensity by adding in some equipment such as a weighted vest or Nordic walking poles.
Check out our guides on power walking and walking for fitness.
Yoga is a great way of giving your body a full workout without putting excessive pressure on your joints and is therefore considered low impact.
With so many yoga positions and moves out there, it’s hard to know where to begin. This ‘Gentle Yoga’ is a perfect option for beginners.
Like yoga, pilates are considered low impact and injuries are uncommon. Many will say a pilates routine is a great way to relax but the ability of a low impact pilates routine to shape, tone and strengthen the body is not to be underestimated.
This 15 minute beginners session is great for post pregnancy, where high impact training is not suitable but also anyone looking to begin to add pilates to their regular exercise regimes.
As with any form of exercise, whether it’s high or low impact the importance of a suitable warm-up should not be forgotten. Even with low impact exercises, the intensity can still be high just without putting excessive pressure on joints in the process. The repetition is what causes your muscles to strengthen and tone, so if you’re going to do anything for your fitness, the key to success is to find something you are willing to do on a regular basis.
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