8 of the Best Low Impact Exercises

Protect your joints with these effective low impact exercises

There are several reasons you might be searching for low-impact exercise ideas.

As we get older, we may find our joints ache more than usual. There’s a stiffness you didn’t have a few years ago and you might feel far less inclined to do intense workouts. On the other hand, if we are very overweight and trying to improve our fitness, we’ll need to find exercises that put as little strain on our joints as possible. Another possibility is that we’re getting back into our workouts following a health issue, surgery or an injury, in which case we are also seeking low impact options.

Whatever your reasons, you’re in the right place. We’ve selected 8 of the most effective low impact exercises for you to choose from to help you reach your health goals.

Have you ever taken time to think about how good low impact exercises could be?

It’s easy to let this slide under the radar. Most times we could assume that the more intense and sweaty our workout, the better the results will be.

Challenging workouts like HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and CrossFit have popularized the notion of “go big or go home” and include high-impact activities like plyometrics and skipping, to name a few.

Box jumps are high impact

Jumping activities are high impact and can hurt your joints.

Luckily there are some awesome low impact workouts that won’t be jarring your body from head to toe. That’s not to say that low impact exercises are easy. You’ll still get a great workout, break out in a sweat, and produce amazing results. But before we tackle which ones are simply a must, let’s explore why you should consider doing some low impact workouts.

Here are some fantastic benefits of low impact exercises:

They help you lose weight or maintain weight loss

If you’re trying to lose weight or you’ve reached your weight loss goals and need to maintain your figure, consider some of the low impact options we provide further on. LISS (low-intensity steady state) training means that you get to work at a lower intensity for a longer period of time. Think of walking or cycling – you burn loads of calories when you regularly perform these endurance-focused workouts.

Suitable for all ages

Come young or old, all are welcome. This is thanks to the gentler nature of these exercises. There’s no pressure exerted on the body and little to no impact on joints and muscles. This is excellent news for seniors who need to include light cardio and strength training into their routine.

No need to take as many rest days

With high impact exercises, your body works hard and it’s common to feel stiff and sore for several days thereafter. This is one of the main reasons why having a rest day between intense workout sessions is so important. During rest, your muscles will repair and strengthen.

But low impact exercises don’t overtax your body in the same way. In fact, you don’t have to take so many breaks between sessions and this could be why you bounce back sooner from your workouts.

Say goodbye to injuries

High impact exercises put you at a greater risk of injury. Even if you’re a die-hard fan of your high-impact workouts, consider adding in some low-impact sessions to reduce your overall risk of injury and also allow your body time to recover from more intense sessions.

Excellent for your mental wellness

Studies show that regular exercise promotes feelings of satisfaction and reduces the risk of depression. Our bodies were made to enjoy movement and it increases uplifting hormones (like dopamine and serotonin) which improve mood.

Feel less exhausted and more energized

When leading a sedentary life it’s easy to start feeling the effects. As strange as it sounds, you’ll feel more exhausted from sitting in front of your computer all day long than if you took a break and went for a walk.

It sounds contradictory, but exercising can actually fight fatigue and boost your energy levels, and low-impact exercise is particularly suited to this.

How do you know if your workout is low impact or high impact?

If there’s any jumping involved then the activity is high-impact. The action of your feet leaving the ground and then landing back down sends tremendous force through your feet, into your ankle, up to your legs and into your hips and spine.

High impact activities include running, gymnastics, boxing (high-impact for your upper body), skipping, jumping, burpees, jumping jacks, squat jumps, jump lunges and jogging in place.

High-impact exercises are often favoured by young fitness influencers because they get to display explosive strength while burning a lot of calories. One benefit of impact exercises is that they improve your bone density. However, there are many people who prefer to workout in a gentler manner for a variety of reasons.

Ready to experience all the benefits of low impact exercises?

8 Low impact exercises to keep you fit and healthy

#1 Walking

It should come as no surprise that walking is the first item on our list. It’s easy, cheap and accessible to almost everyone.

Whether you’re taking your canine friend, or you fancy having your toes in the beach sand. A walk, even just a slow one will really help. It gets your blood circulating, your muscles moving, and your body will thank you for the energising upliftment.

#2 Elliptical Trainer

If you frequent the gym but don’t want to pound the treadmill, opt for the elliptical machine instead.

low impact elliptical trainer

The elliptical trainer is a great low-impact option at the gym.

This machine mimics the forward motion of cycling but it’s performed standing upright, not sitting down. Since your feet are always in contact with the pedals, you never experience any impact on your joints. With the simple adjustment of the instrument controls you can dial up the resistance for a more challenging workout, should you choose.

#3 Dancing

If you love moving to the music, that’s one way of getting a nice low impact workout.

Dancing is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise and it lengthens and tones the muscles; this explains why professional dancers are always in such amazing shape! Their muscles and joints become strong plus they’re doing what they love.

You don’t need to be a professional though; just put on your favourite track and shimmy around the room. Just don’t jump up and down, otherwise you’ve moved into the high-impact zone!

#4 Tai chi

Tai chi is one of the oldest forms of exercise in China which originally started as a form of martial arts more than 600 years ago.

Tai chi helps get your energy levels up and moving throughout your body. It also helps to keep your body and mind healthy. This form of mind-body exercise focuses on slow, controlled movements that are aligned with breathwork and focus.

#5 Cycling

Another fun way to get the blood pumping is cycling. Cycling is easier on the joints of your knees and ankles and is a great alternative for those who love cardio but are unable to partake in running for whatever reason.

Cycling through some mountain trails will give you the best nature has to offer for your body and mental wellness. And if you’re too scared to cycle outdoors, a spinning bike will also do the trick!

Whilst cycling is a great low-impact exercise, it’s really challenging and will work your legs effectively.

#6 Swimming

Swimming is a fantastic exercise for those who are overweight, recovering from injury or looking for a fun active-recovery option.

The buoyancy of water supports your body weight which helps you move with more control. And best of all, there’s no jarring impact on your joints.

The difficulty of a swim session depends on how fast you move through the water, the duration of your session (or how many lengths you do) and how intensely you swim.

#7 Yoga and pilates

Yoga and pilates are excellent forms of exercise that have incredible mental benefits as well. These workouts are challenging yet relaxing and contribute towards a more toned physique.

8 low impact exercises

Yoga and pilates will give you an effective low impact workout.

#8 Body Weight Exercises

Cardio is great for burning calories and fat, but don’t forget about building muscles! To do that, you’ll need to include resistance training into your routine.

There are loads of low-impact bodyweight or weight-training options available that will help tone and sculpt your physique without putting pressure on your joints. Many of these can be done from home using minimal equipment like rubber (fitness) bands.

Just Google “low impact resistance training” to get started.

Closing thoughts about the best low impact exercises to stay fit

Low impact workouts are easier to do and don’t require strenuous sessions. This makes them a great option no matter how fit or unfit you are. Oftentimes you don’t even have to be at the gym to do your low impact routine, it’s often as simple as going for a walking, diving into the pool or rolling out your yoga mat.

Select your favourite exercises from our list and decide to incorporate them into your weekly routine for maximum benefit.