Low impact exercises don’t have to be boring and repetitive. Instead, they can be great ways to improve your heart health, strengthen your muscles, and improve your overall physique. Our guide to low impact activities includes fun alternative exercises that you can mix and match for a uniquely fun workout.
Low impact exercise can be appropriate for a wide range of different individuals with different health issues and injuries. By raising your heart rate during a workout, you can improve your cardiovascular health, and gain a variety of other benefits even if the exercises you are engaging in are low impact.
There are many different kinds of low impact exercises, and you should check with your doctor before starting any new workout regimen. Many of these exercises can be done at home, but others such as swimming or biking can also be done with a workout buddy.
What Are Low Impact Exercises?
Low impact exercise is essentially movements that allow you to increase your heart rate without putting undue amounts of stress on your joints. High impact exercises tend to pound your joints which can be both uncomfortable, and higher risk for certain individuals.
Low impact exercises are a great way to get a productive workout in and gain all of the benefits of exercise, but taking it easy on your joints will allow you to be more active. Activities such as walking, riding a bike, yoga, and Pilates are all examples of low impact exercise that can provide significant benefits to your health.
If you have a gym membership or a home gym, you can do many different kinds of low impact activities to improve your overall health, and positively impact your heart. Swimming, the elliptical machine, rowing, dancing, and many other forms of exercise can strengthen your heart by getting your heart rate up.
For those that are overweight, exercise that is low impact may be more highly recommended than high impact exercises in order to prevent damage to the joints, and unnecessary soreness. Low impact exercises are also frequently prescribed to those who:
- Are pregnant
- Suffer from an injury to one or more joints
- Have a chronic issue such as osteoporosis or arthritis
- Are new to exercising
The great thing about low impact exercise is that you are far less likely to suffer from overuse injuries and other stress-related injuries that are common with high impact exercise. By lowering the amount of impact in your exercise, you can exercise longer and expedite your weight loss by burning hundreds of calories spread over a period.
If you are unsure whether you should be doing high or low impact exercise, it may be worth asking your doctor and consulting with an individual such as a personal trainer. They’ll be able to help you craft a regime that best suits your goals and is safe while improving your overall health.
The Positive Benefits of Low Impact Exercises
Maintaining your heart health is essential regardless of your age or current physical condition. With different low impact activities, you can experience a wide range of valuable health benefits that can strengthen your heart and improve your overall cardiovascular health.
Many people are aware that when you exercise, chemicals are released in your brain that makes you feel good and can help reduce stress. What people don’t realize is that this reduction in stress and the release of those chemicals can help improve the overall performance of your heart.
Reducing stress can be critical for your cardiovascular health, and the release of chemicals can also help by improving your mood. When people are in a good mood, they’re generally more likely to continue exercising which means more benefits along the way.
Muscle Stability and Strengthening
Your heart health improves with as little as 30 minutes of exercise a day, and the improvement to your muscle stability and strength is another key benefit. When you work out your heart gets stronger, and it is then better able to pump blood throughout your body.
Exercise is also a great way to improve your blood flow and make more circulatory connections in parts of the body where they are needed. A healthy heart can then support these new connections, and fuel your body which results in better energy levels.
The increase in circulatory connections can also mean that clogs and other blockages in your arteries and veins are less likely to be severe as the blood has alternate paths to follow. Exercise also reduces your risk for heart disease and can slow the progression of diabetes.
Weight Loss and Control
If you are overweight and trying to lose weight or just aiming to stick to a healthy weight, exercise is beneficial for your overall health. Your heart will perform better without the extra weight, and a more consistent weight can reduce the amount of everyday stress placed on your heart.
Keeping a healthy weight will reduce your chances of heart disease and stroke, but it can also reduce the overall burden your heart has to endure long term. Low impact activity can still be great ways to get your heart rate up and burn calories, which will help keep your level of heart health higher than if you didn’t exercise at all.
Some inflammation in the body is typical and will come with working out as your body adjusts to new activities and exercises. Even low impact activities can cause some inflammation, but the key to regular exercise is that over time it can help to reduce chronic inflammation that can cause other adverse effects.
Exercise can reduce your risk of many different conditions, and inflammation can affect several of the systems in your body. By continuing a regular exercise program, you can reduce the number of adverse effects that chronic conditions have on your body which in turn improves your heart health.
Lowering Your Risk of Heart Disease
Low impact activity can still increase your heart rate enough to have a positive impact and improve your overall cardiovascular health. The heart is a muscle after all, and regularly working out can help increase the strength of your heart and prevent your arteries from getting clogged which can cause a heart attack.
People who work out regularly also tend to reduce other unhealthy habits such as smoking or poor food choices to keep up with their exercise routine and get the maximum benefit. Reducing your bad habits can also be useful to your heart, and can reduce your likelihood of certain cancers as well.
Types of Low Impact Exercise for A Healthy Heart
If you are looking for different kinds of low impact activities to implement in your workout routine, you can rest assured that there are a wide variety of options. Diversification can help improve your chances of continuing a workout routine long-term, which means more significant benefits for your heart and overall health.
Swimming doesn’t have to mean laps in the pool, but staying active and keeping your heart rate up while in the water is essential if your goal is to improve your heart health. Water aerobics can be a great alternative if you’re not a fan of lap swimming, and treading water can elevate your heart rate without much need to move back and forth.
Swimming can also be done with a buddy, although you should be moving briskly enough that it’s difficult to talk. Remember to take breaks at reasonable intervals, drink plenty of fluids, and stretch to prevent muscle soreness post workout.
Walking is an excellent form of exercise that many people find enjoyable as part of their regular workout routine. Walking should be done at a brisk pace that makes it difficult to talk normally, but you can still be social while walking and do it with friends.
When the weather is less than ideal, consider going to indoor locations to walk such as a museum, or mall. Keep in mind that as little as 20-30 minutes a day can have a positive effect on your overall heart health while also strengthening your muscles.
Dancing can be a fun social activity that you can do with friends and family or on your own. You can turn on music and dance at home by yourself, or you can visit a local hotspot or class.
Dancing can quickly raise your heart rate, and since it’s so much fun, some people hardly notice how long they’ve been dancing. As a general rule, if it is difficult to talk you’re dancing hard enough, but if you can sing along to the music you need to pick up the pace a bit.
Many individuals like to go dancing with their partners, but if you’re up for it, there are typically local classes where you can drop in. Trying out different kinds of dancing from salsa, to line dancing can help add much-needed variety that makes working out fun and far less of a chore.
You may find that you have so much fun dancing that you forget how long you’ve been active and you may end up feeling a bit sore the next morning. While dancing it’s important to remember to drink plenty of fluids, take regular breaks, and stretch every so often to prevent injury.
Pilates encompasses many of the same benefits that yoga does, including stretching, focusing on your breathing, and holding specific positions for muscle strengthening. These activities can quickly elevate your heart rate to improve your heart health, but they also work to strengthen key muscles in your core that benefit your whole body.
When you improve the strength of your core muscles, it helps to better align your spine which can help alleviate or prevent back pain. Also, the working of your core muscles during Pilates can encourage better circulation, and burn calories.
Pilates is something that you can do at home if you wish, but there are many different classes that you can take as well. Some of the classes are in person, while others you can attend online or follow along using a DVD.
Weight training is excellent for strengthening muscles, but it’s also a superior way to increase your bone density. As humans age, our bone density tends to decrease over time if we don’t use our muscles and put a strain on our bones. By lifting weights, you can put a positive strain on your body that triggers muscle growth and encourages a higher bone density.
These changes won’t happen immediately, and many of the benefits of weight training can take weeks, months, or even years to fully develop. However, weight training has some immediate benefits too such as elevating your heart rate, encouraging the start of muscle growth, and the ability to increase your endurance.
There are several different kinds of weight training and various programs to follow. If you are unsure which one is most appropriate for your goals, it is well worth consulting with a professional and taking the proper weight lifting class to ensure you have good form.
Yoga and Stretching
Yoga and stretching can be a great way to increase your flexibility which can, in turn, help you be more active and comfortable while performing different activities. Yoga can also help relieve stress by reminding you to focus on your breathing.
Stretches help to loosen up tight muscles while increasing your flexibility and relieving stress that can accumulate from a lack of activity. If you spend most of your day sitting at a desk, or have a sedentary lifestyle, even a few minutes of stretching one or more times each day could create a positive change for your body and heart.
Yoga and stretching also can strengthen specific muscles as you stretch and move, and help increase your muscle stability. When muscles are strengthened in a way that makes you more stable, it can help improve your balance, overall coordination, and reduce some aches and pains.
There are many different kinds of yoga to explore and many of them will help to raise your heart rate and burn calories. To find the right kind of yoga for you, you may want to try out a few different classes and discuss with a professional what style will help you to best reach your personal goals.