Your joints and your entire body like low impact exercise. It’s easy on your joints. Easy on your muscles.
Low impact exercises don’t demand you to make jerky motions. They don’t stress out the injured parts of your body either so if you have been injured or are recovering, you will essentially be babying your body while it regenerates with these types of movements.
Low impact exercises can be a good stretch for your muscles if you select certain types of activities. For example, consider these for low impact, and remember that they may even be used as a good warm-up prior to high impact activities:
• Tai chi
• rock climbing
Low impact exercises can include stretches to your fascia, which lengthen your spine and may even give you an extra quarter-inch of height. In this regard, they will build flexibility as well.
When you want to exercise without a sympathetic nervous system rush of stress, low impact exercise is always the way to go.
Some additional examples of low impact movements would be:
• swimming/water aerobics where your joints are supported by the
the buoyancy of the water
• total-body-resistance exercise with ropes
• ballroom dancing
• cross country skiing
• step aerobics
• strength training
• cardio on an elliptical machine
• cardio dance workouts
There’s a saying by those who are members of the American Council on Exercise that you can reduce your risk of injury to your muscles, joints, and bones if you keep one foot on the ground at all times. Low impact exercise always does this.
In fact, you could even categorize a few activities in the low impact exercise group as having no impact on the musculoskeletal system, meaning no stress and strain – at all. These activities would include water sports and even sitting while you workout or stretching such as weight training in a seated position.
One of the most important things to remember is that you don’t have to put your joints through maximum stress to develop a good level of cardiac fitness. Low impact workouts are just as easily going to raise your heart rate and give you the cardiac fitness you are searching for.
Contrast High Impact Exercise
High impact exercise will have the opposite types of effects on your body. It will stress your joints and muscles and the exercises themselves demand attention to detail; otherwise, you risk injury.
Examples of this form of movement are:
• step aerobics if you are running around the room or jumping
• jumping jacks
• cardio dancing if you are jumping, and skiing
The benefits of this type of exercise are different from the benefits of low impact exercise.
Added Force on Your Joints From High Impact Movements
Here’s an example of how there’s more force on your body with high impact exercises: During running, the pressure on the ankle, knee and hip joint is equal to about twice your body weight in pounds. Thus, if you weigh 180 lbs, running will generate 180 x 2 = 360-foot pounds of pressure on your joints. The greater your weight, the more the negative impact on your joints and the greater the possibility of injury. Yes, that’s not fair to those who need to lose a little weight, but it’s how it works.
High impact exercises can worsen the pain you have right now in joints that have injuries that never healed. These types of movement can activate an old injury or even start a new one because it’s awfully easy to end up with a strained or sprained ankle while you’re hopping and jumping. One slight misjudgment of the angle of your ankle as you land can snap a ligament or tendon, or at least strain it.
The Benefits of Low Impact Exercise
The benefits of low impact exercise start with these 14, and as you continue them regularly, you will see that you can add a lot more to the list:
1. Low impact exercise is a great introduction to exercise for those who have been sedentary.
2. Perfect for those who have joint disorders such as osteoporosis or arthritis because you can go slow and your stiffness will improve.
3. This type of moving the body is not as cumbersome for those who are obese and those who are senior citizens who may be stiff.
4. You won’t necessarily be sweating up a storm with low impact exercise – unless you want to.
5. No stress and strain on joints, muscles, and bones
6. You don’t need a certain level of fitness in order to participate in these activities.
7. You can rest assured you will be at low risk for injuries.
8. The movements aren’t ones that will make you feel clumsy.
9. Gets the circulation going, which increases blood flow to the brain and concentration levels improve.
10. Stimulates the muscles and joints; movement pumps the lymphatics in the body, increasing the detoxification of waste products.
11. The exercise puts you in a good mood.
12. Swimming improves your lung function.
13. Doing low impact regularly gives you something to look forward to and wards off depression.
14. Improves sleep quality during the night
Why Not Start Out with Low Impact and See How You Like It?
Most people will do a balance of low impact and high impact exercises. Three days a week they may go running and the other three days a week, they will go hiking, swimming or spinning.
Here’s a question that you may never have thought of: since low impact exercise is important for the body, is there something you can do WHILE you work that will allow you to get the benefits without having to make time in your busy schedule?
The answer is yes. You can actually do low impact exercise at your desk while working. One option is to take a break every hour for only 5 minutes. Do some simple exercises on your desk, such as push-ups using your desk, or leg raises. Another option is to attach a simple device to the bottom of your chair that allows you to move your leg back and forth during the hours of work. It’s quite simple – and you can still gain all the benefits mentioned above from it.
Whatever type of exercise you do, always think about the form. Do it carefully and with intention – and you’ll gain the most benefits from it.