As far as some people are concerned, cardio can be quite the painful experience. Though most people don't mean that literally -- they simply dislike performing cardio workouts -- some forms of cardio can actually cause pain. Activities such as running, particularly on hard pavement, can at best be uncomfortable and at worst cause an injury. If you'd like to avoid those scenarios, opt for a non-impact cardio method that can help you lose fat, just like high-impact exercises.
How Cardio Burns Fat
Cardiovascular activity isn't the only way to burn fat, but it can be an effective method. Cardio exercises assist in fat burning because the activity requires energy, causing your body to burn calories. If you burn enough calories, your body starts tapping into stored energy reserves -- including your belly and back fat -- to fuel the activity. Additionally, some forms of cardio, even non-impact cardio, can help you build muscle because of the resistance you must overcome. Building muscle further aids in fat burning because muscle burns more calories, even at rest, than fat tissue.
Advantages of Non-Impact Cardio
Non-impact cardio has several advantages over moderate- or high-impact cardio activities. First, non-impact cardio activities are preferable for overweight individuals, as they don't cause the same amount of force to hit your joints with every stride. Heavy impacts can cause injuries in joints such as your knees, which bear much of your body weight. Even if you're not overweight, the repetitive contact of higher impact cardio exercises can harm joints close to the point of impact, such as your ankles. Additionally, because non-impact cardio doesn't involve physical pain, you can typically perform this type of cardio for longer periods of time, leading to more calorie burning and better overall fitness.
Machine-Based Non-Impact Cardio
While avoiding the treadmill for cardio -- other than leisurely walking -- is preferable if you must minimize any impact, you can still use some gym machines for non-impact cardio training. Working out on the elliptical helps you avoid impacts, as does cycling on either a standard exercise bicycle or a recumbent bike. Lastly, you can also use a rowing machine or an upper body ergometer to avoid impact while still getting a cardio workout that burns fat. The latter machines can help firm up your back by building strong, tight muscles, while bikes and the elliptical engage your abdominal muscles with each stride.
Non-Machine Cardio Options
If you'd prefer to blaze your own trail and break free of the machines, at least for the sake of some fat-burning cardio, you have a variety of options. Swimming provides a full-body workout that can help tone your belly and back muscles, while rollerblading focuses more on your abdominal muscles to keep you balanced. Ice skating is another low-impact cardio option, while power-walking can also be beneficial. Holding weights as you power walk can enhance the fat-burning potential, as the extra resistance helps you build muscle and increase your metabolic rate.
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images