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Low Impact Exercise Benefits | Safe & Smart Fitness
Before we jump into the benefits of low impact exercise, we should first understand what it is.
Low impact fitness activities are those where you do not have to place one of your limbs in contact with a hard surface.
To put it simply low impact exercise is any exercise that doesn’t require you to pound your feet on the floor or punch your fists at an opponent.
In low impact exercise, movements are smooth and at least one foot is always on the ground.
Low Impact Does NOT Mean Low Effort
Sometimes low impact exercises can get your heart rate up higher than high-impact exercises.
Exercises like swimming or using the elliptical machine are great ways to get your muscles moving while using resistance to get your heart pumping.
Low impact exercise offers specific, holistic benefits that many high-impact exercises simply cannot offer.
By engaging in low or no-impact exercise, you can see various benefits.
These types of exercises have numerous health benefits that can greatly increase the quality of your life.
Typical low impact fitness activities include things like swimming or biking.
Low impact movements also include walking, elliptical machine workouts or dancing.
Also in this category are flexibility moves such as upper body twists and bends.
Make the most of those low impact movements by protecting your knees with Dark Iron Fitness Knee Sleeves.
There are also supported exercises such as leg lifts and abdominal curls; arm circles or rowing action; and standing balance exercises.
Related: Examples of Low-Impact Exercises
High Impact Exercise Isn’t for Everyone
If you’re trying to lose weight, you know that getting into the middle-high range of your target heart rate zone (about 65% to 85% of max heart rate) is important for burning calories.
You also probably know that it’s easier to get your heart rate up when you’re jumping around.
But, for some people, high impact exercise just isn’t an option.
Some reasons you may have to avoid high impact are:
- Injuries in the joints, bones or connective tissue
- Chronic problems like arthritis, osteoporosis or stress fractures
- A beginning exerciser
- Very overweight
- An aversion to high impact exercise
Remember Newton’s third law — the law of impact and reaction forces?
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
This is the way your body absorbs the impact forces during high-impact moves.
The force on your body while running (high impact) can be more than twice that of walking (low impact).
A 150-pound person who runs will land on one foot with about 300 foot-pounds of pressure on the ankle, knee and hip joints.
This can result in overuse and stress injuries, especially in larger people and at fast speeds.
Related: Benefits Of Low Impact Exercise
Better Cardiovascular Health
One of the most important benefits of low impact fitness is its ability to improve your cardiovascular system.
Research has found that participating in low impact fitness activities are the best way to treat and prevent the development of cardiovascular disease.
It will help lower the risk of heart disease by creating better circulation and controlling high blood pressure.
This means that swimming, using an elliptical or riding your bike can be beneficial if you have been diagnosed with or are concerned about the development of heart disease.
High-intensity, low impact exercises can still increase the heart and breathing rates for sustained periods.
Related: Treadmill vs. Elliptical
Less Damage to Joints
Decreased damage to joints is probably one of the most, if not the most, important reasons that people participate in fitness activities that are low impact in nature.
Often, people are interested in losing weight, increasing their fitness level, or simply becoming more active.
But a sore knee, hip or ankle can hold them back and restrict them from participating in typical exercises such as walking or jogging.
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Low impact fitness activities allow you to get the same benefits of more traditional forms of exercise without experiencing damage to these joints.
Research has found that low impact fitness activities may promote the healing and recovery of damaged joints.
They will enable you to return to higher impact activities more quickly.
Healthier Joints for The Long-Term
While your 20-something body might have been fine pounding the track every day, by the time you reach your 40s or 50s, you may have done more harm than good to your joints.
Over time, the soft cartilage that cushions your joints wears down.
The more impact those joints are exposed to, the quicker they deteriorate.
As we age we must listen to our bodies and not over-do it. Low impact exercise is an awesome way for those who already have joint pain to experience intense exercise and lose weight.
Related: Gaining Muscle Over 50
Performing low impact fitness activities is a great way to lose weight.
Low impact can burn hundreds of calories per session, which can result in significant weight loss when combined with a healthy diet.
One pound is composed of 3,500 calories.
To lose one pound per week, you must eliminate 700 calories from your day.
While many people often diet to cut calories, swimming, biking and using an elliptical can help to burn some of these calories, therefore requiring fewer caloric restrictions.
Keep in mind that a 150-pound person can usually burn around 300 calories per hour riding a bike.
In order to lose one pound per week, an extra 400 calories must be cut from your diet every day and you will need to ride your bike for one hour each day.
Related: 3 Benefits of Low Impact Fitness
We all know that exercise benefits your mental health.
Since many low impact exercises are often done in a group exercise class, the mental health benefits increase greatly.
Not only are you releasing all those feel-good brain chemicals, studies have shown that spending time with others is also a good mood-booster.
Exercise, especially low impact aerobic exercises, significantly improves your mood and makes you less susceptible to pain.
This is when your brain produces a chemical called endorphins which is also known as the body’s natural painkiller.
More Muscle Stability
By using intentional movements rather than momentum, you can gain better control over your muscles.
When you run or do another high impact exercise, you rely on momentum to perform these exercises.
Using slow, controlled motions helps to increase overall stability throughout your core.
Who Should Go Low?
Low impact exercises are most beneficial for beginners, as well as people with arthritis or osteoporosis, older adults, individuals who are obese, pregnant women, and people with bone, joint, connective tissue injuries.
Low impact exercise is less jarring on the body and joints, and less intense overall.
The American Council on Exercise says that by always keeping at least one foot on the ground you reduce your risk of musculoskeletal injury.
Oftentimes, high-impact exercise can be low impact by performing the same body movements less strenuously.
You can do them for a shorter period or modify them in a way that reduces the risk for injury.
Balancing Low Impact with High Impact
It’s perfectly fine for people without physical limitations to perform low impact exercises.
But those who are fit may have to work harder to reach their target heart rate zone with low impact exercises.
There is no rule that you must progress to high-impact exercises as you get fitter, although many do so for an increased challenge or greater variety.
Smart Ways to Add Low Impact Activities
If you are not at risk for joint problems, and work out regularly, higher impact exercises can be balanced with low impact work.
Keep in mind that many programs combine high and low impact exercises into a single workout and that sometimes the line isn’t as clear.
For example, “rebounding,” or jumping on a mini trampoline, involves jumping (high impact) but reduces the impact due to the give of the surface.
You can choose to counter the high impact of running, by doing low impact exercise like Spinning and walking on your off days.
This way, you are not constantly stressing your joints and body with high impact moves that could result in injury over time.
Hiking uphill with a heavy backpack is a high-intensity activity that is weight bearing and low impact.
Walking up the stairs, whether they are real stairs or the Stepmill at the gym, can be an intense workout that will get your heart rate up.
Sometimes just walking at a faster rate than you normally do, while swinging your arms, will reap cardiovascular benefits.
Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Low Impact Exercise
Almost all exercise, when done safely, have life-changing benefits that can keep you healthy and strong for years to come.
The more consistent you are with your exercise, the more benefits you will see.
Lastly, remember to pick up a pair of our new knee sleeves, because these things were made to protect your joints and help make even the most strenuous work feel like low impact exercise!