A Guide To The Best Low Impact Workouts

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There are a lot of ways that you can divide workouts.

You can divide them based on what they do (cardio vs resistance training), you can divide them based on intensity (high-intensity workouts vs low-intensity workouts), or you can divide them based on their impact on your body (low impact versus high impact).

In this short article, you will see what a low impact workout is and why it might be right for you.

What Are Low Impact Workouts?

Low impact workouts, simply put, are workouts that have a very low impact on your body; more specifically, your muscles and joints.

A typical workout will put a lot of strain on your muscles. Sprinting and other similar exercises do actual damage to your muscles.

This is why so many people feel intense pain after a tough workout session. While high impact workouts are good, they do carry a risk of injury.

Not everyone is able to do high impact workouts and not everyone likes the idea of potentially injuring themselves while working out.

This is where low impact workouts come into play. Low impact workouts are things like swimming, ellipticals, Pilates, exercise bikes, and similar workouts.

As the name suggests, these put less strain on your body than traditional workout routines.

Are Low Impact Workouts Less Effective?

One of the first questions that may spring to mind is whether low impact workouts are “less effective.”

The answer is no, low impact does not mean low effectiveness.

For example, swimming is considered one of the best methods for burning calories.

On average, swimming will end up burning more calories than running (assuming you’re doing them for the same amount of time).

However, unlike running, swimming doesn’t carry significant risks of breaking bones or tearing muscles.

Who Should Do Low Impact Workouts?

Low impact workouts can be done by anybody and indeed, plenty of regular people do things like swimming and yoga.

However, their main appeal will be to people who are out of shape, who have suffered a serious injury, and the elderly.

The main reason being that for these groups, traditional workouts carry a higher risk of injury.

Low impact workouts allow these groups to easily get into shape without accidentally injuring themselves.

If you, or someone you know, fall into one of these groups then you should give low impact workouts a try.

Are Low Impact Workouts Effective?

Low impact workouts are easy on your joints, but that doesn’t make them easy on fat cells!

If you’re wondering whether or not low-impact workouts are still effective for muscle building and weight loss, have no doubt. Low impact does not equate to low intensity.

You can workup quite a sweat while burning calories and even toning your muscles–all without putting a lot of impact on your joints.

Low impact workouts are all about going easy on your joints, which is especially beneficial for people with joint pain and mobility issues as it is.

However, low impact workouts remain the favorite type of exercise for people across every ability and age group because they’re thought to be better for your body overall.

After all, why put undue stress on your joints when you don’t need to?

All of this in mind, while some low impact workouts are certainly low intensity, not all of them have to be.

A popular example of a low impact, low intensity workout could be an easy stroll through the park.

Even this will burn calories, without elevating your heart rate too much or putting stress on your joints. However, you can also go easy on your joints while effectively burning calories fast.

One example of a low impact, high intensity workout is swimming.

In fact, any exercise you do in the water is generally low impact since the water works to cushion your movements and, therefore, protect your joints from impact.

Of course, you can imagine how many calories competitive swimmers burn during a tournament or even their warm-up.

Swimming is actually one of the best workouts you can do, professionally or in your free time.

Aside from walking and swimming, other low impact workouts of varying intensity include yoga, pilates, and any type of mat-based exercise where you won’t be doing a lot of jumping.

Running and jumping are the two highest impact moves you can do and, while effective at burning calories, they’re best avoided if you want to avoid impact.

However, you can actually make most any high-impact move a low-impact one by simply doing it on a rebounder (mini trampoline) or another cushiony surface.

Do Low Impact Workouts Burn Fat?

If you are interested in low impact exercises because you are tired of dealing with the sore muscles that come as a result of doing high impact exercises (like sprinting and lifting weights), then you may be curious about how well low impact workouts do when it comes to burning fat.

Can You Burn a Lot of Fat with Low Impact Workouts?

Yes, you can end up burning a lot of fat with a well-designed low impact workout. In many ways, a low impact workout might end up being the best option when it comes to burning fat.

If you think about it, you can only do high impact exercises for a limited amount of time before you have to stop because of soreness, pain, etc.

The nice thing about low impact exercises is that you can do them for an extended period of time with no risk of injury.

This enables you to to burn a significant amount of fat and calories per session.

Good Low Impact Workouts to Try

Sadly, not all low impact workouts are cut from the same cloth. Some are quite good when it comes to burning fat and some are not so good.

For example, yoga, Pilates, and aerobics all fall under the banner of “low impact workouts” but they aren’t all that good at actually burning fat and calories.

So, with that in mind, here are some low impact workouts that are guaranteed to help you burn fat and shed pounds.


By far the best low impact exercise is swimming.

Swimming for just 30-minutes or so burns hundreds of calories and burns tons of fat as well.

You don’t even have to do any sort of specialized swimming exercises. Just swimming regular laps can be a really great workout.

Elliptical Machines

Regular running, whether on the ground or on a treadmill, puts a lot of strain on your knees.

An elliptical is a good way of getting the same cardio workout, without putting anywhere the same amount of strain on your knees.


Cycling is yet another great way of burning a ton of calories and a ton of fat while having very little negative impact on your body.

Obviously, there are some physical dangers associated with cycling, but the chances of tearing a muscle are very low.

What Is the Best Low Impact Exercise?

Low impact exercises are great because they often burn a lot of calories while having very little physical impact on your body. There is very little risk of strained muscles, torn muscles, broken bones, etc.

However, a lot of exercises fall under the umbrella of “low impact,” so this may lead to the question of which low impact exercise is the best.

This is not an easy question to answer in the slightest, given how different people evaluate different exercises differently.

However, swimming is probably the all-around best low impact exercise for reasons that you will see.

Why Swimming?

So, why is swimming better than other low impact exercises like walking, using ellipticals, and other similar exercises?

Well, swimming combines a lot of great aspects in to one exercise.

For starters, swimming has an extremely low impact on your body.

There is a reason aquatic exercises are often recommended to seniors and those recovering from injury, and its because swimming simply doesn’t have the same impact on your body that many other exercises do.

The reasoning behind this is mostly due to the presence of water.

The water sort of slows down your movements and provides a bit of extra “cushion,” this leads to less pressure being put on your muscles and bones.

Swimming is also incredibly effective when it comes to burning calories, burning fat, and exercising your muscles.

Just swimming laps for half-an-hour can burn upwards of 250 calories.

It also burns a ton of fat. Finally, swimming also does wonders for your muscles because it uses basically every muscle group.

Swimming does have some downsides, with the two most obvious ones being access and a learning curve. Not everyone has access to a pool or a place that they can swim.

Likewise, not everyone is able to swim and learning to swim can be costly and difficult, especially if you are older.

Still, despite the downsides, swimming remains by far the best low impact exercise.

Alternatives to Swimming

If you can’t get into swimming for some reason, you might want to consider some alternative low impact exercises.

Pilates and yoga are both good alternatives to swimming because they too have a very low impact on the body.

Exercising using an elliptical machine is also a really good option if you want to burn a lot of calories without having a major impact on your muscles.

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