Guide to Low Impact Exercise and Its Benefits for Women

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Sticking to an exercise routine can be tough, because when most people think of exercise, they think of high-impact activities such as CrossFit. Statistics speak to the difficulty American adults have adhering to an exercise routine: Nearly 80% of Americans aren’t getting enough exercise in their lives. It’s recommended that adults get 150 to 300 minutes of exercise per week. 

Low impact exercise is a great way to meet this suggestion. Walking, yoga, and other low impact exercises are incredibly beneficial for your body without putting strain on your joints. You can work on cardiovascular fitness, improve your strength and flexibility, and even lose weight with low-impact exercise – all while engaging in fun activities that are easier on your body than things like running. 

Low Impact Exercise, Explained

Woman Dancing at home

Low impact exercise is not to be confused with low intensity exercise; intensity refers to your heart rate while exercising. Low impact exercise, also known as low impact cardio, minimizes the strain you put on your joints while still giving you enough of a workout to get your heart rate up. This allows you to reap the benefits of a good cardio workout, minus the excess body stress. 

One of the key features of low impact cardio is that one or both feet will always stay on the ground or your equipment, so you won’t find any exercises like jump rope, jumping jacks, or burpees in this kind of routine.

There are many types of low impact exercises, and there’s sure to be something for everyone, no matter what your interests are. Many can be done from the comfort of your own home, like dancing, tai chi, or yoga. 

Some exercises require no equipment and aren’t location-specific, like walking. You may find you’ll like an elliptical or a stationary bike if you prefer working out in a gym setting. Here are some examples of low impact workouts you can try:

  • Pilates
  • Barre pilates
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Stationary biking
  • Swimming and water aerobics
  • Elliptical
  • Dancing
  • Rowing

Finding something you enjoy doing is the key to staying consistent with an exercise program, and these exercises give you plenty of options. Keep reading to learn about the benefits of low impact workouts, and find out why you should start incorporating them into your daily routine.

7 Benefits of Low Impact Exercise

Benefits of Low Impact Exercises

This approach has been proven to have numerous advantages. It’s often recommended because of how joint-friendly it is, which makes it more accessible to people with joint pain or arthritis. Yet this approach has many other benefits, including:

1. It Can Improve Your Mood

Good news:  You don’t have to go for a run to get a “runner’s high.” Low impact exercise still helps your body produce feel-good hormones called endorphins. These mood-boosting hormones offer many benefits, including stress reduction and improved sleep. A Harvard study found that the simple act of walking for 60 minutes a day decreased depression by 26%.  

2. Lower Impact Means Less Chance of Injury

Low impact exercise is gentler on your joints than its higher intensity counterparts. Due to less strain on your joints, the likelihood of injury is lowered. These kinds of workouts are thus often recommended to people recovering from injuries. Keep in mind that it’s still important to practice good form regardless of what exercise you choose to do.  

3. Low Impact Exercise Is a Way to Stay Active on Rest Days

It’s always important to give your body a break and allow it to rest. Low impact exercise is perfect for those days when you don’t want to engage in high impact fitness activities but still want to move your body. Going for a walk or doing a gentle yoga session is a great way to keep active on rest days. 

4. It Builds Strength and Flexibility

Many low impact exercises such as yoga or pilates use body weight exercises. This can help build muscle without the joint strain of lifting weights. This approach also allows you to build flexibility as you work out consistently. 

5. Low Impact Exercise Increases Cardiovascular Fitness 

Since low impact exercise is different from low intensity, your heart will still get a great workout regardless of which exercises you choose to do. Your heart is a muscle, and like all muscles of your body, it needs activity to stay strong and healthy. 

6. It Builds Endurance 

Increasing your cardiovascular health and fitness means increasing your endurance and stamina. With consistent exercise, you’ll notice that what you once found challenging in the beginning starts to become easier with repetition and time as your fitness level increases. This will allow you to continue challenging yourself as you exercise.

7. Low Impact Exercise Burns Fat 

This approach can still burn calories – and thus fat. There’s some evidence, in fact, that low impact workouts may be better at burning fat than other approaches. High impact workouts usually put your body in an anaerobic state. That means your heart rate may be higher, but you’re less likely to burn fat as fuel. Your body burns fat more efficiently at a lower heart rate. 

Low impact exercise is great for everyone, but it certainly helps make exercise more accessible for people with health conditions, the aging, obese people, or people who are new to exercising. You can still burn fat, increase your cardiovascular fitness, and build strength, flexibility, and endurance with this type of program, all while reducing your risk of injury and lessening the impact on your joints. 

Consult With the Top Naturopathic Doctor in the Washington, D.C., Area

Starting an exercise routine may seem intimidating, but having the right health care professional to walk you through it can be all the support you need. Dr. Karen Threlkel is a naturopathic doctor with the perfect team to answer your questions about starting an exercise routine or finding the right exercise program for your body’s needs.
Dr. Threlkel also provides natural remedies and holistic treatments for a variety of health issues. Call today to schedule a consultation.

About The Author:

Picture of Dr. Karen Threlkel, Naturopathic Physician, Washington DC

Dr. Karen Threlkel, Naturopathic Physician, Washington DC

Dr. Threlkel received her degree of Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from The National College for Naturopathic Medicine (now called The National University of Natural Medicine) in Portland, Oregon. She also holds a Bachelor Degree in Kinesiology from The University of Maryland. She is licensed in Naturopathic Medicine by the Government of the District of Columbia Department of Health. Dr. Threlkel is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, past president & current member of the Washington DC Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

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