Just because you have to perform low-impact workouts doesn't mean your workouts have to be low intensity. A low-impact workout simply means you're avoiding putting pressure on your joints and muscles. That means you should avoid jumping exercises such as jump rope, pounding from running and even some sport's like basketball or volleyball that involve lots of jumping and running on a hard floor.
Walking is one of the best low-impact workouts because it can be done almost anywhere by almost anyone and doesn't require a gym membership. Simply head outside and hit the pavement or walk around a nearby park to get in your 30-minute low-impact workout. Vary your walking workouts by changing the pace at which you walk as well as incorporating some hills. This will keep the workout challenging, yet still low impact.
It doesn't get much more low impact than swimming. Swimming allows you to use your entire body with little to no stress on your joints, regardless of how much time you spend in the water. Primarily known as a cardiovascular workout, swimming also helps to tone and shape your muscles. In 30 minutes a 155-pound person can burn roughly 230 calories with the potential to burn more if you're swimming laps at a higher pace.
Body-weight work such as pushups, squats and lunges are low-impact exercises that require just one thing -- you. These exercises can be paired together to make up a circuit. Other body-weight workouts such as Pilates and yoga also help to shape and strengthen your muscles without putting too much impact on your joints. These workouts are actually known for helping to improve flexibility and joint mobility.
There are many ways to perform low-impact resistance training. Use weight machines at the gym or even invest in a set of adjustable dumbbells or resistance bands for your home to get in a quality workout. The key to low-impact weight training is choosing a weight that's heavy enough to burn on the last few repetitions, but not too heavy that you compromise good form. It's also important to not perform any jerky movements. Each movement should be fluid and smooth so you're not hurting your joints. Performing a few sets of varied weighted exercises for 30 minutes helps to improve bone mass as well as endurance and can help improve your metabolism over time as you gain more muscle.
Kaitlin Condon is a holistic health coach and certified physical fitness/wellness specialist. She is a contributing health writer for the teen magazine "Miabella," as well as several online publications.