Cardio is great, but low-impact cardio is even better when it comes to taking care of your bones and joints.
What do we mean by “low-impact”? Low-impact cardio is exercise that gets your blood pumping, but saves your joints, bones, and tendons from hard-hitting stress caused by running (feet pounding the pavement), weight lifting (which puts your elbows and shoulders under stress), or other activities that might cause strain.
Cardiovascular exercise is an important part of maintaining heart health, strengthening your heart, and managing stress.
When you feel as though regular cardio exercise sin’t an option for you because of bone, joint, or tendon injuries, that’s when things get frustrating.
If you already have joint problems, it’s discouraging to think that working out for your heart health could harm another part of your health.
This is why we have suggestions for great low-impact workouts that will help you stay in shape, without sacrificing your cartilage.
Why it’s Low-Impact: Whether you’re swimming laps or doing water aerobics, water provides cushion and a sort of weightlessness for your body, while significantly reducing any pressure o impact.
Why It’s A Great Workout: While water cushions you, it also provides natural resistance.
It goes without saying that it’s much more difficult to move your body through water, than it is through air.
And, because of the weightlessness, you have to work harder to keep your balance. Consequently, you often end up using more muscle groups when you do workouts in water.
Try: Warm up by treading water for 2 minutes. Then, swim 4 50-meter laps (If in Olympic-sized pool) alternating intensity or strokes every other lap.
Repeat 3 times, and cool down with 2 slow laps and 1 minute of treading water.
Why It’s Low-Impact: Biking is considered low-impact because you’re using additional leverage to transport your body, but that leverage doesn’t require heavy-hitting movements.
Why It’s A Great Workout: Not only is biking a energy-efficient way to get around and explore new places, it provides an amazing full-body workout.
You’re never just using your legs on a bike—you’re maintaining balance and stability with your arms and core.
Try: Using a stationary bike, or a real bike, try biking for 30 minutes a day. During your ride, mix in 1-minute bursts of speed with 2-minutes of moderately-paced pedaling.
Why It’s Low-Impact: Pilates is a form of exercise that combines strength training, balance, and stretching.
The creator of Pilates specifically designed the workout regimen to alleviate joint pain, back and neck pain, and increase strength and mobility in the problem are typically affected by high-impact workouts.
Why It’s A Great Workout: Pilates is about using your own body weight to achieve better balance, limber muscles and joints, all while strengthening everything from head to toe through complex movements that challenge under-worked muscle groups.
Why It’s Low-Impact: Walking requires a more relaxed movement than running, but still allows room for high intensity and fat-burning opportunities.
Why It’s A Great Workout: Much like biking, walking is a low-impact way of getting around, and can easily be used to multi-task, for those of you who feel short on time.
Walk your dog, make phone calls, or head to the grocery store while walking.
If you’re conscious about hitting the hills and speeding up your pace every couple of minutes, walking can also burn some serious calories.
Try: 3 minutes fast-pace walking alternating with 2 minutes moderate pace walking for 45 minutes. For an extra challenge, add hand or ankle weights!