5 Great Low-Impact Workouts

couple walking

A regular exercise routine increases muscle strength and boosts endurance levels, helping you stay fit and maintain a healthy body weight, no matter what your age or current activity level. If you’re just starting out, or if you’re recovering from a joint injury, low-impact workouts provide the exercise you need without straining your joints. These top 5 low-impact workouts offer variety and target different muscle groups. Talk to your doctor before starting any new workout routine to make sure that you’re healthy enough to take part.
Yoga, swimming, weight lifting, cardio workouts, and walking are all simple, low-impact workouts that can benefit many. Image via Wikipedia.

Hit the Water
Swimming is still the ultimate low-impact workout as the water cushions your weight and adds natural resistance to body movements. Local recreation centers typically offer lap-swim and water aerobics sessions, but an above ground pool can provide the same low-impact health benefits. A standard water workout should last about 50 minutes, including 10 minutes of gentle stretching, a 30-minute lap-swim or water-aerobic session to increase your heart rate, and a 10-minute cool-down period. For the aerobics portion of the workout, turn up your favorite radio station and try brisk water walking or water running. Add scuba fins or buoyant ankle and wrist weights to increase resistance for a more strenuous workout.

Cardio Machines for an Aerobic Workout
Build cardiovascular endurance with no-impact cardio machines, including stationary bicycles, elliptical, rowing, stair-stepper and spinning machines. Spinning classes burn calories and fat, but some are too intense for beginners. Whether you work out at home or at the club, follow the standard 50-minute exercise routine. Take a full five minutes to stretch and loosen your muscles and another five minutes at an easy pace on the cardio machine. Pump up the speed or increase the machine’s resistance level for 30 minutes. Slow down for the final 10 minutes. For the best results, participate in a cardio machine workout at least three times a week.

Workout with Weights
Weight training builds muscles and helps retain bone density. You don’t have to belong to a gym to take advantage of weight training but it doesn’t hurt. A set of hand weights and ankle weights can help you build muscle strength at home. Starting simple is the key. Weight training consists of lifting or moving a set weight repeatedly to target specific muscles. Using a low weight and numerous repetitions tones muscles, while using a heavy weight and low repetitions increases muscle size. It’s a good idea to meet with a personal trainer at least once to learn correct weight-lifting techniques, but after that, you can work out on your own.

Walk for Health
Walking is a great low-impact exercise that you can do at your own speed. If you’re healing from an injury, start slow and increase your speed or walking distance as your body adapts. A brisk 45-minute daily walk increases cardiovascular health and endurance. On days when you don’t have that much time, try to fit in two or three shorter walks. If you have access to a treadmill, you can keep up your walking routine, even when the weather outside doesn’t cooperate.

Supplement your low-impact cardio workout with a bi-weekly yoga class or purchase a yoga DVD and follow along at home. Yoga incorporates a series of stretches and poses that increase flexibility and build muscle strength. Don’t let the lack of bouncing around fool you, yoga can be quite a workout. Introductory yoga incorporates breathing techniques and body positions that increase balance and posture. Even simple poses can leave your muscle sore, so don’t overdo it. Give your muscles at least one day of rest in between yoga workouts.

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