Updated: Sep 18
What is low-impact cardio?
Low-impact cardio is any cardio exercise that puts as little stress as possible on someone’s ankle, knee and hip joints, with most keeping at least one foot firmly on the ground. Most people usually practice at least one form of low-impact cardio, which includes: spinning/indoor cycling, walking on a treadmill, rowing, yoga or using an elliptical. Some people think low impact means low results, but they couldn’t be more wrong. On the contrary, some studies suggest low-impact exercises may actually be better for many people than higher intensity workouts, including those who are recovering from injuries, older or obese adults, people looking to increase their flexibility and those with joint issues.
What are the benefits of low-impact cardio?
· Flexibility – Many low-impact cardio programs, such as yoga, lend themselves to increased flexibility and should be included in any well-rounded workout program. Because the stretch is the exercise, people can definitely work up a sweat and are likely to see improvement in their flexibility relatively quickly.
· Weight Loss – Beginning an exercise program can be hard, especially if it has been a while since someone went to the gym. Low-impact exercises are an excellent way to see those stubborn pounds start to melt off with a decreased chance of overexertion or injury happening.
· Strength/Endurance – Being strong and healthy is always in, and low-impact exercises can definitely help those looking to be just that! Because people who practice low-impact strength training are likely to complete more reps than those aiming for high-intensity, many find they can become extremely strong without bulking up as much.
· Better Cardiovascular Health – People with heart conditions may have reservations about exercising too much, and low-impact exercises are just what the doctor ordered. Due to a decrease in strain, those with heart issues will find they can workout longer with low-impact exercises versus high-impact.
· Better Mood – Exercise truly does help with symptoms of depression and anxiety, and low-impact exercise is a great way to get those benefits. In fact, a 2015 study of older adults found that 73% of participants saw an “improvement in…depressive symptoms.”
· Better Technique – Many people who jump right in to completing high intensity exercises later discover they haven’t practiced good form and become injured because of it. With low-intensity exercise, people are more likely to have better form while exercising that also transfers over to higher impact workouts like running and heavy lifting.
Best Low-Impact Exercises and Their Benefits
Indoor cycling is exactly how it sounds: someone riding a stationary bike indoors. Some of the benefits include:
· Building Muscle – When a person is cycling, they’re working out almost every muscle in their lower body as well as the core.
· Low-Impact – Indoor cycling facilitates the lowest possible impact on joints being less weight is put on the knees and ankles, but it can easily be altered for spinning classes for a harder workout.
· Temperature Control – Whether someone sees extreme outdoor heat or cold (or both!) where they live, indoor cycling allows them to work out every single day.
· Safe – No one has to worry about being hit by a car or their bike falling over if they are spinning inside. Most bikes will also feature straps to keep the feet in to prevent injury.
Power Walking on a Treadmill
People can take their treadmill walking workouts to the next level by power walking. Some of the benefits are:
· Full Body Workout – When someone power walks on a treadmill, they’re pumping their arms front to back to create a full-body workout that honestly can’t be beat.
· Less Stress on the Joints – Running, whether outside or inside, can put a lot of stress on someone’s knees and ankles. Power walking burns almost the same amount of calories while putting less impact on the exerciser.
· Burning Fat – Because it’s a full-body workout, power walking on a treadmill all but melts fat away from a person’s body and torches that late night snack.
Elliptical machines are routinely one of the most popular machines at any gym, and for good reason: they are an excellent full-body workout. Some of the benefits include:
· Boosted Stamina – Ellipticals allow anyone to receive a great cardio workout, which means more blood and oxygen are pumped through the body, increasing stamina and capacity for cardio.
· Upper and Lower Body Workout – Because an elliptical needs the entire body to work, it exercises nearly every part of the body. Those who use an elliptical should make sure their weight is evenly distributed and pump their arms just as fast as they’re moving their legs to receive the full benefits.
· Maintain Fitness – Injuries happen, and an elliptical is the perfect way to maintain pre-injury fitness levels while putting less stress on joints.
Rowing machines are an excellent strength workout that still easy on joints. Read on to learn just a handful of the benefits.
· Better Posture – Rowing machines engage the user’s back, core and legs—all of which are required for great posture.
· Beginner Friendly – Those new to exercise find that rowing machines are great because they offer a full body strength and cardio workout that lets them torch calories with less impact on their joints.
· Build Muscle – Rowing is a combination of strength and cardio training that allows the user to build muscle while getting a great cardio workout.
Yoga is much more than stretching! With a host of benefits ranging from easing arthritis symptoms to building muscle, this is one exercise everyone should be doing.
· Arthritis Symptom Management – Yoga allows people with arthritis to receive some relief from swollen, aching joints.
· Better Sleep – Yoga is relaxing and helps those who practice it receive better quality sleep than those who skip it.
· Increased Strength – Many people use some form of yoga as an after workout stretch but incorporating it as its own workout can help build muscle as well as improving balance and flexibility.
We hope this list helps you decide on the best low-impact workout for you. Fitscope is proud to offer studio workouts for your stationary bike, treadmill, elliptical, rowing machine or yoga plan. We promise you’ll receive better, faster results when using our programs, and you’ll look and feel better than ever before. For more information, or to start your free seven day trial, please click here.