The Best Low-Impact Exercises

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Low impact exercise is a term used to describe light or gentle exercise used by those who do not want a high intensity workout. This type of workout plan is advisable for those who are pregnant, have injured bones, joints, or connective tissue, and have chronic problems such as osteoporosis, arthritis, or stress fractures. 

They are also used by people who are overweight or new to exercising. Low impact exercise is recommended as it puts minimal pressure on the joints and is less likely to cause an impact-type injury. With consistent low impact exercise, you can burn calories, lose weight, and improve your fitness.


Walking is one of the most popular types of low impact exercise as it does not require any equipment and can be done just about anywhere. To increase your heart rate, walk faster while swinging your arms to increase the intensity of the workout. Interval training is also recommended and can be done by adding short bursts of speed to your walking workouts. Hiking, especially up an incline, challenges the body to provide an intense low-impact workout. Wearing a backpack can help to burn more calories.

Cycling/Elliptical Training

Standard bicycles, stationary bicycles, and elliptical trainers are also great ways to complete a low-impact exercise routine. When sitting on a bicycle, ensure that the seat is high enough so that the knees are bent at a ninety-degree angle. Elliptical trainers offer a low-impact exercise similar to walking, but provide a more intense cardio workout. These are designed to work every large muscle group in the body without putting additional strain on the knees.


Swimming is the perfect fitness choice as it is easy on the body and recommended for those with physical limitations. The buoyancy of the water cushions fragile bones and stiff joints that may result in injury by the impact of out-of-water exercises. Swimming uses the back, shoulders, legs, abdominals, gluts, and hips and helps to build strength. The intensity of a swimming workout can be maximized by gradually increasing the duration of swimming time.


Yoga has the ability to improve your fitness and overall well-being through a series of breathing and posture exercises. When done on a regular basis, yoga helps to develop balance, strength, and flexibility while boosting your mood. Pilates is a great workout for those who are limited with their movement. It focuses on improving posture through slow, controlled exercises while re-balancing the body.


Rowing is a great alternative to running and cycling and offers a complete low-impact workout. When done properly, rowing works out the abdomen and back. It also boosts the cardiovascular system and makes for the perfect warm-up for other activities. Rowing machines work by placing your feet into a platform while holding onto a handle as the seat slides back and forth. The rowing motion that is performed works the upper and lower body at the same time.

Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-country skiing provides a total body workout without putting additional pressure on your joints. Workouts can begin rather slowly and increase in intensity and duration over time. Cross-country skiing works to strengthen the triceps, quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus muscles, whether on trails or a skiing machine that mimics the motions. This low-impact exercise also helps to improve balance, agility, and coordination.

Weight Training

Combined with a healthy diet, thirty to sixty minutes of exercise each day helps to maintain body weight and enhance muscle strength. Weight training allows the muscles and joints to work together, thus more efficiently. When you choose a low-impact weight training program, bone density can be maintained while losing weight and strengthening bone and muscle. As the muscles and tendons are strengthened through exercise, this stimulates growth.

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