A good workout often takes its toll on the body, pushing you to your limit and helping you to get fitter, healthier, stronger, leaner or more toned.
This is (usually) great. No pain, no gain, right? However, some high-impact exercises can cause pain in the joints, particularly the hips, knees and ankles. This, clearly, is not so good.
Injuries to the joints can take a long time to recover, especially if the damage affects the ligaments, tendons and cartilage. They can also stop you from working out, but there are a number of low-impact exercises that you can do to prevent such problems while still being able to push yourself to smash your health and fitness goals.
What is a low-impact workout?
A low-impact exercise is a workout that doesn’t involve a significant amount of jerking, jumping and landing, which reduces the risk of injury while still enabling you to get the blood pumping and your muscles working.
Before you start to worry that you won’t get the same level of workout, low-impact sessions can help to burn just as many calories as running, jumping and skipping; particularly when it comes to low-impact HIIT workouts.
What are the best low-impact exercises?
The best low-impact exercises are the ones that help to get the blood pumping so you still feel as though you’ve worked hard either at home or in the gym, without the pain caused by lifting or landing.
Here we’ve compiled a list of seven low-impact exercises you should be trying, and you can attempt any of these at home or in the gym with minimal space and equipment required.
1. Elliptical Machines (Cross-Trainers)
Capable of providing a number of different full-body workouts through just one machine, elliptical machines are a great low-impact form of activity that gets the blood pumping and helps to tone muscles without the same risk associated with running on a treadmill.
Simulating stairs, walking and running – in one activity – cross trainers, as they are also known, decrease the risk of injury to joints, allowing you to work on various arm and leg muscles without putting your joints under any undue strain.
Swimming is often overlooked as a form of cardiovascular exercise, mostly because pools require additional memberships as gyms don’t always have their own swimming facilities. Those that do tend to be expensive, too!
When you do start swimming, however, the water takes all of the impact out of the exercises, enabling you to work hard with no impact whatsoever (except the wall at the end, mind out!) It’s also a great low-impact exercise for weight loss.
Planking is a relatively new form of exercise and one that involves no impact at all. Simply get yourself into a press-up position and see how long you can hold your bodyweight for. It is an extreme test of core strength that anyone can do anywhere and helps with abdominal, shoulder and back muscles.
4. Walk-Out Press Ups
This exercise is another that you can do at home, in the gym, out in the garden; anywhere where you have a few feet of space to yourself. Start by standing upright, bend down to touch your toes and then “walk out” with your hands until you’re in a press up position. Once there, you can either do a press up or simply “walk in” and back to an upright stance.
5. Dumbbell Chest Presses
Another exercise you can do at home or in the gym, all you need are two dumbbells at a comfortable weight. Get yourself into a bench-press position, flat on your back, and raise the dumbbells up in front of you. A great, low-impact exercise that will help you build and tone muscles in your arms and chest.
Many see yoga as a form of relaxation, but it also has a number of muscular and skeletal benefits. A lot of the positions are based around breathing techniques and strengthening your core, including the back, abdominal and pectoral muscles with no impact on the joints whatsoever.
7. Barbell Deadlifts
Great for working the glutes with no jerking actions that can take their toll on the body, deadlifts are the ideal way of toning and sculpting, while also building strength. Start with the barbell on the ground, bend down and stay leant over while raising the bar to waist height before lowering and going again.