There are many reasons one might want low-impact exercises rather than workouts that require jumping or placing extra weight on the joints. Injury, arthritis, pregnancy, obesity, or even just a simple preference for gentler exercise are all reasons that one might choose a low-impact workout. Just because exercises are low in impact, however, does not mean they are easy, or that they will not have benefits for the whole body. There are many excellent low-impact exercises to choose from.
Some aerobic low-impact exercises include bicycling, swimming, or even walking. Jogging, dancing, or aerobics that require jumping should be avoided, but step aerobics can often get the heart rate up and help to burn fat without putting undue stress on the joints. Some machines at the gym are great choices for low-impact workouts, particularly the elliptical, rowing machine, and stationary bicycle. Aqua aerobics, which take place in the pool, are one of the best types of low-impact exercises because they work the whole body with virtually zero impact. Some outdoor sports, such as hiking or cross-country skiing, can be low impact but still excellent ways to get in shape.
Aerobics are not the only options for low-impact exercises. Yoga and Pilates are two excellent types of workouts that are capable of working the entire body, increasing strength, flexibility, and posture, among other benefits. Any types of exercises performed on the floor, such as crunches, leg lifts, or side planks, can be low in impact yet very effective. Exercises that work the lower body, such as lunges or squats, are also excellent for toning.
Though all of these low-impact exercises can be effective, it may be necessary to work a little harder to get the same benefits, and to get the heart rate as high as someone who is jogging or dancing. One way to do this is to involve the entire body as much as possible. For instance, in brisk walking, try to pump the arms as well. It may be necessary to walk, swim, or bicycle faster in order to increase the heart rate into a weight-loss zone.
Before beginning any type of exercise program, even a low-impact one, if injury, pregnancy, arthritis, or any other medical issues are a concern, it is best to check with a physician. He or she will be able to specify any exercises that should not be performed. In general, there are plenty of ways to get in shape using only low-impact exercises; it just takes a little creativity and research.