Exercising can be tough on joints. However, low-impact aerobic workouts can give you the same amount of exercise without the added stress on your joints. Many low-impact workouts can be done at home or at your local gym, some with no special equipment needed. Low-impact workouts can also be done to counter the stress that high-impact workouts have on joints.
A low-impact exercise is one in which at least one foot remains on the ground at all times. Exercises such as walking, hiking, rollerblading, step-ups or calf raises are all examples of low-impact exercises. A low-impact exercise is also one in which no foot touches the ground. Using an elliptical machine, swimming and water aerobics fall under this category because your body is being supported by water or a machine A high-impact workout involves both feet leaving the ground at the same time. Exercises such as running, jumping rope and plyometrics are examples.
Benefits of Low-Impact Workouts
While a low-impact workout might not burn as many calories as a high-impact workout, it does have its advantages. Low-impact workouts allow pregnant women or people with arthritis to stay active. Your body increases the production of endorphins after 30 or 40 minutes of exercise. These act as the body's natural painkillers and can help people who have bone, joint or connective tissue injuries, reports the Spine Health website.
Always warm up and stretch before any workout. Stretching can help prevent injury during exercise. Easy walking is a good warm up and should be done for five to 10 minutes before exercising. Stretch your thighs by grabbing one foot behind your back and pulling up with light pressure. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat three times for each side. A knee-to-chest exercise stretches the hips and low back. Lie on your back and lift one knee to your chest. Grab your leg behind your knee and pull it toward you while keeping the other leg on the ground. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat three times for each side.
If the low-impact exercises are too easy for you, you can try increasing the intensity. For example, try speed walking if your moderate pace isn't enough. It’s great exercise for the whole body and doesn’t put the stress on your knees like running or jogging does. Elliptical machines allow you to adjust the resistance to make your workouts harder. Most elliptical machines also have movable arms so you can work your upper body as well as your lower body. If you like bike rides, try a spinning class instead. A spinning class will force you to keep up with a teacher. However, don't choose an advanced class if you are just starting out.
Thomas Mitsos covers high school sports as the central desk reporter for MLive Media Group, where he has worked since 2009. He has also contributed to "Grand Rapids Magazine" and "Grand Rapids Family." Mitsos holds a B.A. in professional writing from Grand Valley State University.