Whether you want to lose weight or improve your overall fitness, sometimes starting with low-impact exercises eases your muscles, joints and even your mind into fitness routines and reduces stress and pain. Instead of pounding the pavement in a five-mile run, try a few of these low-impact exercises that are good short-term introductions or long-term favorites.
First, let’s understand what a low-impact exercise is. In a nutshell, it’s an exercise that eases stress on joints, ligaments, bones, tendons and muscles, including your heart. Low-impact exercises provide muscle toning and development while avoiding the main causes of injury—strain and impact forces.
Some low-impact exercises include
1: Aqua Running. Yes, that’s running or jogging in enough water to help keep you buoyant. Don’t try in a wading pool or a jacuzzi. The water is usually waist-high when you start your routine, and as your muscles, bones, joints and other body parts become stronger, you simply use a shallower part of the pool until you can comfortably exercise on a solid surface.
2: Swimming: You don’t have to aspire to Olympic competition preparation to get fit and healthy by swimming. Even leisurely laps swum regularly can vastly improve your fitness level, flexibility and stamina. Using flotation devices can enhance water safety will little detriment to an exercise routine. Styrofoam “boogy boards” that are like a half-surf board can support the upper body while using just leg kicks to propel you can tone and strengthen every muscle from your upper back down to your toes. Using it to support your torso as you let your legs drag behind you and use your arms to propel yourself aids your hands, arms, shoulders and neck. Swimming also helps your cardiovascular system.
3: Walking: Even when done at a leisurely pace to start and over short distances, walking is one of the healthiest low-impact exercises you can enjoy. As you build your strength and stamina, alternate between faster speeds and longer distances for a full work-out for your skeletal muscles and your heart muscle. It also improves circulation. Take your pet along for company, though allow the animal ample time for relieving itself before you start your “speed” walks.
4: Bike Riding: Make sure your bicycle seat is properly positioned for both safety and comfort. If it’s too high, you will stress your knees joints unduly. If it’s too high, you could overstretch the backs of your knees—a painful injury that can take weeks to fully heal. Slow rides lead to faster speeds, but you don’t have to race to get a good work-out. As with walking, intersperse speed and distance for best results. Be sure to wear proper safety equipment, however. Never sacrifice safety for fitness.
5: Stretching: Yes, stretching is good exercise. You isolate muscle groups and individual muscles in a thorough stretching routine, and holding the tension in those muscles aid in toning. Just relax the muscles when you complete the stretch; occasionally “shaking” the muscle out can prevent inadvertent cramping as well.
Combining any or all of these exercises into a varied and regular routine promote fitness while reducing chances of injury. The key is to strengthen while avoiding injury. Adapt your normal, day-to-day routine motions into your own low-impact exercises to expand your repertoire.
- The Importance of Nutrition Before and After Workout (weightlossdietforum.com)
- NIH Tips to Help You Get More Exercise (dietcleanse.org)