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An elderly couple doing low impact exercises.

Low-Impact Exercises You Can Do at Home

So high impact exercise isn’t your thing. The good news? You don’t need to do high impact exercises to stay in shape. Not to mention, doing high impact exercises all the time is tough on your joints and your energy levels. Not every single workout needs to be 110% of your effort - contrary to what you might see on social media.

Sometimes, you need a low impact at-home workout to supplement those high-intensity moments. And bonus: It also saves your joints from chronic pain down the road and overtraining.

Get this: Jumping around all the time and going balls to the walls every workout could land you with knee pain, hip pain, back pain, and some serious frustration.

The cool part about all this is that your low impact workout doesn’t have to be that different from its high impact counterpart. In fact, it’s quite easy to turn high impact exercises into low impact variations right in the comfort of your own home.

But first…

What is Low Impact Exercise?

Technically, a low impact exercise is characterized by having one foot on the floor at all times. Good examples of this include walking, step classes, rollerblading, swimming, bodyweight training, weightlifting moves, and more.

Meanwhile, high impact means that both of your feet come off the ground at one time. Think box jumps, squat jumps, high knees, and jumping jacks.

Yet… they both have their benefits!

Low impact workouts…

  1. Facilitate fat loss
  2. Improve your strength and endurance
  3. Help prevent injuries, and
  4. are generally safe and effective for almost any fitness level

Related article: How Practicing Yoga Transformed My Mind, Body & Soul

What is the Best Low Impact Exercise?

The “best” low impact exercises involve any exercise that makes you work and challenges you. The whole ‘no pain-no gain’ does not apply here, and if you feel any pain, take a load off. Stop and adjust, or straight-up leave it for the next day when your body can handle it.

Here are some low-impact exercises you can do right now.

1. The Low Impact Jumping Jack

With ‘jump’ being part of this exercise’s title, it’s hard to imagine what this exercise might be like without the jumping factor involved. But it’s fairly straight forward.

Instead of jumping out, you step out - always keeping one foot on the ground! It would go something like this: Step your right foot out, lift your right hand up, then step your right foot in and bring your right hand down. Step your left foot out, lift your left hand up, then step your left foot in and bring your left hand down. It’s the same movement - but, you guessed it, low impact!

2. Lunge and Step Up

Stand in front of a stair or step. Step your right leg back into a lunge. Lower and pause, then step your right foot forward. Step your left foot up on the stair or step, then drive your right knee up. Step back down and perform the same sequence 10 reps per side per set.

3. Stepping Skaters

Usually, the skater exercise involves jumping from one foot to the next - but not in this variation! Stand tall and step your right foot to the right side. Step your left foot behind your right leg, then step your left foot out and step your right leg behind your left. Keep going for a set time or for 10-20 reps.

4. Squat and Overhead Press

Who needs jumping squats when you can combine two exercises into one? Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and weights in both hands. Squat down by bending your knees and sticking your butt out behind you. Position your arms so that your elbows are bent and the weights are by your ears. As you go to stand up in your squat, extend your arms and the weights overhead.

5. Standing Elbow to Knee Crunch

Stand tall with your feet about hip-width apart again. Bend your right knee up toward your chest. Bend your left elbow and bring it to touch your right knee. Lower your leg, then swap sides. You should feel this one in your abdominals and obliques!

6. Squat Walk

If you have a loop resistance band, wrap it around your thighs for this one! Stand tall with your feet about hip width apart again, keeping tension in your band if you’ve got one. Squat down by bending your knees and sticking your butt out. Staying in a squat position, shuffle to one side then the next. This should burn the glutes and work your core.

7. Walking Planks

Plank jacks are tough. But walking planks - I’d say they are equally as challenging. Get in a full plank position. This means your hands should be planted on the ground below your shoulders with your arms straight and your body should create a straight line from your head to your toes.

Got the plank down? Good. Now, step your right foot out, then bring it back in. Step your left foot out, then bring it back in. Continue to do this for 10-20 repetitions or a set duration - your choice!

8. Glute Bridge

Grab that band again if you’ve got it. Wrap it around your thighs once again, and lie face up on a comfortable surface. Bend your knees and keep your feet firmly on the ground. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips and butt up off the ground. Hold for a count of two, then lower and repeat for 10-20 repetitions or a set duration.

When Exercising, Remember to…

Warm up!

You will definitely want to warm-up before you start. Try walking for 5 minutes or performing the first exercise, jumping jacks with the low impact twist, for 5 minutes.

Stay hydrated

Keep water nearby. While you might not be out of breath as much, you will still need to keep hydrated to replace any fluids lost.

Listen to your body

If pain happens, stop. Pain is your body’s way of saying “nope.” It’s letting you know something isn’t right. Listen to it.

Add resistance slowly

If these exercises become easy, add some weight or resistance in the form of a band or anything else you can find around your house (hint: laundry detergent is great for this and so are water bottles filled with sand).

Workout in sets

Try doing these exercises for 3 sets each with each set consisting of 1 minute or each set consisting of 10-20 repetitions. Do what feels good for you.

Take Care of Your Body & Your Joints with Low Impact Variations!

Sometimes, your body needs it. You are still getting just as much of a workout - minus the fear or risk of injury.

Want more? Find out how you can still stay healthy without even exercising! Check out this article here.

Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden

"Believing in yourself is really half the battle," says Krista. Anything is possible and you really can achieve anything you set your mind to, is her motto. Physiotherapist, Piano player, skydiver, yogi, adventure traveler and energetic force of positivity, Krista is herself a (delightful) force to be reckoned with! As... Read More

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