Low Impact Workouts, for a High Impact on Health
Exercise that can fit into everyone’s routine
Don’t let the name fool you. Low-impact workouts can be an incredibly effective tool in your fitness routine. They allow you to get your heart pumping and build muscle without some of the risks associated with more intense exercise plans.
Low-impact exercise is exactly what it sounds like: a less intense workout that is not as jolting to your body. Walking, biking, swimming, and yoga are all considered low-impact. Movement like this puts less stress on joints than high-impact workouts (running, crossfit, jumping rope, etc.).
Working in low-impact can be beneficial to many groups, says Dr. Liz Applegate, Director of Sports Nutrition Emerita at the University of California at Davis. “Since low impact exercises are ‘gentler’ to your joints, they are great for people prone to joint injuries or who already have joint issues such as a bad back or knees,” she explains. But pretty much everyone can benefit– at least on occasion– from switching it up, maybe trading running for walking, or HIIT for yoga.
Sometimes you have to take it down a notch, to take it up a notch. “Even highly competitive athletes engage in low-impact exercises to aid in recovery from stressful high-impact competition,” Dr. Applegate adds. While usually less intense, opting for low-impact exercise doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing gains. Yes! You can still make amazing gains on your health and fitness journey with a low-impact routine.
So what are the benefits? One of the biggest is to your cardiovascular health. Activities like swimming, cycling, and power walking can really get your heart pumping and your blood flowing. Weight training and pilates are great strength builders, and it probably goes without saying that yoga can help you make big gains in flexibility.
“Low-impact exercises also burn calories and can aid with weight loss and control,” says Dr. Applegate. “This is great news for heavier individuals who are restricted to less impactful fitness activities since their joints may already be strained.”
Work in that workout! One of the best things about low-impact workouts? They can be much easier to work into a busy lifestyle. Here are some ways to seamlessly add it to your daily routine:
–Take a brisk walk on your lunch break. If you’re working from home, take the dog for a walk. If you’re in the office, take a few minutes to get some fresh air (maybe run an errand in the process!)
–Make it a habit to do some yoga when you’re watching TV at night, or when you need to clear your head during the workday.
–Leave your car at home and bike to work. Getting your workout in during your morning commute = optimal multitasking!
Big Bonus: You can easily transition in and out of these activities, no shower required (but maybe we’ll let you be the judge of that!). “Low-impact exercises can require little to no special equipment and can often be done in street clothes, making a quick workout convenient anytime,” says Dr. Applegate.
As with other fitness regimens, Dr. Applegate reminds us to pair low-impact workouts with a side of protein; “recovery from exercise is optimized when you consume a meal of approximately 20 grams or more following your exercise.” She says substantial protein intake like a shake is optimal 30 to 60 minutes post-workout. “This timing ensures the building blocks of protein called amino acids get into your system, assisting with muscle repair and strengthening following a workout,” she explains.
Finally, says Dr. Applegate, be patient, and the payoff will come. If you commit to a regimen of regular exercise and meal plan that includes protein at every meal, you’re going to see changes.
“Your body adapts to exercise, and will start showing benefits like improved strength and endurance, as well as growth in muscle mass all inside several weeks. Be patient and consistent with your efforts and you will see the results soon enough!”