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What Is Low Impact Exercise?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Low impact exercise refers to cardiovascular exercise that will not overly stress the legs, knees, and feet, or that has a reduced impact on the legs, knees, and feet. Examples of high impact exercise include things like many aerobics dance classes were people perform numerous jumping or bouncing movements. Other high impact exercises include running and jogging. Coming down on your feet from a jump or bounce is more stressful on them and can create or aggravate injury. For this reason, some people look to low impact exercise that will risk injury less.

A few people may find low impact exercise to be of particular benefit. These include people who have suffered feet or leg injuries in the past, who are overweight, those out of shape and beginning a new exercise regimen, and pregnant women. With high impact work, extra weight from pregnancy or from extra pounds strains the body even more and may increase injury risk. If you are at risk for injury from high impact cardiovascular exercise, it makes no sense to do it. An exercise regimen can be thwarted if you have take time off because you’re injured.

Types of low impact exercise include things like walking, aerobic dance classes that do not include bouncing or jumping, and some step aerobics work. The other option is to choose cardiovascular exercises that are considered no impact. These include things like swimming, rowing, or bicycling.

Some people wonder whether you can effectively raise heart rate if you use low impact exercise. While it is true that higher impact work may raise heart more effectively, low impact work can be quite effective too. It can take some work though to build up to working out at target heart rate. A few things that can help accelerate heart rate while doing low impact exercise include using weights on ankles to make the body work harder, increasing pace, like walking faster, or involving the arms in exercising. If you walk and use arm movements, although this may look a little silly, you will be using two major muscle groups and will get to a target heart rate sooner.

Low impact exercise is not no impact exercise. You can still get injured and if you have recurrent problems with feet, legs or knees you may want to choose other exercises that won’t provide this stress. For instance swimming may be a far better alternative if you have conditions like plantar fasciitis.

You can help prevent some injuries, though not all, by engaging in low impact exercise in sensible ways. If you plan to walk, for instance, walk on a dirt track, a treadmill or sand, instead of walking on concrete. Choosing good shoes that are suited to significant amounts of walking or things like step aerobics may also help protect your legs and feet.

Low impact exercise offers a gentle and effective way to stay fit and healthy, and regularly practicing on an indoor putting green is one of the best indoor putting green activities to achieve this. Unlike high impact exercises that stress the legs, knees, and feet, the indoor putting green provides a low impact workout suitable for all skill levels. It engages various muscles, improves coordination, and offers cardiovascular benefits with a lower risk of injury compared to high-impact sports.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon992499 — On Sep 12, 2015

What is the history of low impact aerobics?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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