Stay Fit During the Winter with These Low Impact Forms of Exercise
Just because you can’t or don’t want to participate in high impact forms of exercise, that doesn’t mean you can’t still get your blood pumping. Low impact exercises can still help you move towards your goals of increasing strength and endurance as well as improving your overall fitness. Below are a few forms of exercise that you can partake in that are low impact. If you have an underlying health condition that is impacting your ability to do high impact forms of exercise, make sure to check with your doctor before you try any new form of exercise.
Riding a bike outdoors may mean encountering terrain that would cause your cycling to become a higher impact activity, so keep it indoors to make sure that it stays low impact. Since you’re off of your feet, indoor cycling is less of a strain on your joints, making it a perfect low impact activity to get in some good quality cardio. Make sure that if you’re considering a cycling class, you look for one that isn’t going to incorporate high impact movements — some trendier classes will have more high intensity and high impact moves incorporated.
Any exercise that takes place in a pool will immediately be a low impact workout. Swimming laps is a great way to get in a workout that will increase your strength and your cardiovascular endurance, but it isn’t the only pool-based workout you can do. Many gyms will offer a variety of water-based fitness classes, such as water aerobics, water-cycling, or water-yoga. If you are one of the four in five older adults with a chronic illness like arthritis or osteoporosis, swimming is a great option for you. If walking or running is bad for your joints, aqua-walking and aqua-jogging are great activities that will give you similar benefits to their on-land counterparts.
Yoga is a great low impact form of exercise. There are many modifications available that will make it so you’re able to take any yoga class you’d like. Make sure to look up the type of class that you’re taking before you do so — there are huge differences between a more active form such as Vinyasa and a more restorative form like Yin Yoga.
Pilates is a form of exercise that is similar to yoga, but it has one central goal, whereas yoga can be done for a multitude of reasons and have a multitude of results. A Pilates workout has the aim of improving your core strength, stabilization, and flexibility. It can also help with joint mobility, so it can be helpful if that’s an issue that you’re facing. It engages your muscles without placing a high impact on your joints, which makes it a great form of low impact exercise.
If you can’t run without feeling pain, but you still feel drawn to run, the elliptical is a great option. Because of the circular motion of the machine, you’re not pounding your feet down the way you would on a track or treadmill. This can be a great type of cardio workout that will not hurt your joints or otherwise negatively impact your body since it’s not a high impact type of workout.
Walking is not only a great low impact activity — it’s also a very accessible form of exercise. You can take a walk outside no matter what time of year it is (if you dress appropriately) and reap the cardiovascular benefits. The CDC recommends that you get 30 minutes of aerobic, or cardio-based, exercise at least five days a week, and this can definitely fulfill that recommendation. You can try walking to certain nearby destinations or you can add a walk to your morning routine to get in some great low impact movement in your day.
Overall, most strength training exercises are not high impact. Certain moves, such as box jumps, obviously are high impact, but traditional movements and strength exercises are not high impact. You can easily customize your strength routine by adding in different exercises and adjusting the amount of weight that you use. If you start with lighter weights and slowly make your weights heavier, you’ll be progressively overloading your muscles in a very beneficial way.
If you have any medical issues, checking with your doctor before starting a strength routine can be very important. Whether you are part of the 60 million people who are covered by Medicare or even just a regularly insured American, you may be able to get a recommendation for a physical therapist. Physical therapy is generally centered on building up your strength, and often the exercises they have you do are rooted in strength training. Physical therapists can be a great resource for finding a strength routine that will really benefit and work for you.
Not all hiking is low impact, but it can definitely be a low impact activity if you choose the right trail. Try to look for trails that don’t have huge elevation changes so you aren’t stressing out your joints with uphill and downhill portions. Looking for nature walks is a great place to start, though you can always move to more challenging terrains if you find your hikes too easy.
There are many forms of low impact exercise out there, and going through the process of finding the right form for you may take some time. Make sure to consult with your doctor before starting any new workout regimen and always listen to how your body is feeling.