Nothing can ruin a workout routine like an injury. Many traditional exercises such as running or weight lifting can be stressful to the body, which can cause injuries. This is especially true for someone who doesn’t have much workout experience, is overweight, has joint or bone problems, or has simply gone too long without regular exercise.
Joints, muscles, and bones can all be stressed by exercise. The following low-impact exercises, however, are particularly good for prolonged workouts.
Walking is so basic that many people don’t consider it exercise. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Walking is the most fundamental exercise, and no one who is in good shape doesn’t walk at least a few miles a day. Walking 10,000 steps a day (which is 5 miles, give or take) is not only fairly low-impact, but can have dramatic health benefits.
A pedometer is a great way to measure your progress, and it doesn’t have to cost you anything. A Fitbit is a great piece of workout equipment, but it will cost you at least $60. A cheap pedometer can be found online or at sports equipment stores for one-fifth the price, or you can download a free pedometer app to your smartphone.
Swimming is fantastic cardio, is essentially zero-impact, and works out nearly every muscle group at once. But for many people, swimming as a regular part of their exercise routine is just not feasible. If you don’t own a pool, or don’t live by the water in a warm climate, regular swimming may be a luxury.
Water aerobics are similar to normal aerobics, with two added benefits. First, there’s the added resistance from the water, which helps strengthen the muscles. Second, just like with swimming, the water is an inherently low-impact environment. Water aerobics are particularly popular for rehabilitation.
While water aerobics has many of the same benefits as swimming, it has the same big drawback: if you don’t live close to a free, year-round place to swim, it can be difficult to work into your daily schedule.
Whether stationary or on the road, biking has the same great cardiovascular benefits as running, at a fraction of the physical stress. Biking can also be easily incorporated into your daily schedule. Swimming, while a fantastic low-impact exercise, requires a chunk out of your schedule. If you live within a few miles of work, you can turn your daily commute into an effective and low-stress cardio exercise.
Elliptical machines were invented in the 1990s. Since then, they have become a gym staple, more popular than both stationary bikes and treadmills, which are high impact and potentially dangerous.
Ellipticals provide a cardio workout that exercises both the legs and the arms, and is specifically designed to have as little impact on your joints as possible.
There is an ideal low-impact workout for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. These exercises are just as effective as their high-impact counterparts, but without as much bodily stress.
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