High-impact aerobics generate force each time your feet touch the ground. These exercises can be uncomfortable or even painful for those suffering from bone deterioration or connective tissue ailments, such as osteoporosis and arthritis. Low-impact cardiovascular activities place little stress on the bones and joints while promoting cardiovascular fitness, building stamina and burning hundreds of calories per hour. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each week, and there are a variety of low-impact cardiovascular machines that can help you achieve this while minimizing your risk of pain or injury.
With stationary cycles, you can burn hundreds of calories within a short time period without stressing your joints. According to Harvard Health Publications, cycling can burn from 200 to more than 400 calories in just 30 minutes, depending on your body weight and workout intensity. Cycling also activates the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves, helping you to sculpt a strong, lean lower body. Stationary cycles also have adjustable seats, allowing you to further ensure the comfort of your joints during movement.
Rowers are low-impact cardiovascular machines that mimic the motions necessary to row a boat. These machines offer a total-body workout, engaging the biceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, quadriceps, upper back and lower back. BodyBuilding.com notes that a 150-pound person can burn approximately 230 calories rowing at a moderate pace for 30 minutes. Rowing also requires you to continuously contract and expand your muscles and joints, helping to loosen your muscles and improve joint mobility.
Elliptical trainers are designed to mimic the movement of running. They allow you to burn as many calories as you would performing high-impact cardiovascular activities without impacting your knees or joints. A 155-pound person can burn more than 330 calories with 30 minutes of elliptical training, according to Harvard Health Publications. Elliptical trainers also tone the quadriceps, calves, hamstrings and glutes, and they have movable handles that you can push and pull to tone the muscles in your arms.
Ski machines mimic the motions necessary to ski down a slope. Your own body's resistance is required to glide the foot pedals back and forth as you alternately swing your arms at an angle. A 185-pound person can burn more than 400 calories exercising on a ski machine for 30 minutes, according to Harvard Health Publications. This low-impact machine also tones your upper and lower body, engaging the glutes, calves, lower back, shoulders, triceps and hamstrings.
Walking on a treadmill does impact your joints slightly because you must continuously lift each foot as you take steps, but the pace of your walk determines whether it is a low- or high-impact activity. By walking at a slow-to-moderate pace, you can get a good cardiovascular workout without placing a lot of impact on your joints. Moderate walking can burn between 200 to 300 calories per hour, notes Harvard Health Publications. Raise the treadmill's incline level to increase the intensity of your walks without adding impact.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity and Health
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- Arthritis Today: Benefits of Stationary Cycling
- BodyBuilding.com: Rowing, Stationary
- MayoClinic.com: Elliptical Machines -- Better than treadmills?
- ExRx.net: Ski Machine
Before starting her writing career, Tanya Brown worked as an eighth-grade language arts teacher. She also has a background in nursing, with extensive experience in urology, neurology and neurosurgery clinics. Brown holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and is pursuing her master’s degree in educational psychology.