Low impact exercise pros and cons

Trainers often describe low impact exercise as any motion or activity where one foot stays on the ground at all times. In high impact exercise – like running, jogging, plyometrics or contact sports – the body is making contact, or pounding, the ground. This can be difficult to the body, especially the joints. Low impact exercises are just the opposite.

Low impact exercises

Most people choose to do high impact exercise because of the intensity. They think that high impact equals faster weight loss. Although low impact exercise equipment and workouts are less hard on the body, they can be a great way to get that stress-busting high.

Here’s a list of low impact exercises (some can even be done on the daily.)

1. Walking

Walking is probably the easiest form of exercise, almost anyone can do it. Leisurely walks are great for reducing stress, too.

Related: Does Walking 1 Hour A Day Help You Lose Weight?

2. Elliptical

The elliptical machine is a low impact exercise equipment that can provide the same benefits as running without the accompanying risk of knee and joint injuries.

3. Spinning

Spinning is a recommended workout for those who suffer from arthritis. Indoor cycling, as the name implies, is typically done indoors so the weather won’t be a problem.

4. Yoga

Yoga is a good combination of calming exercise and strength training. Instead of lifting weights, yogis lift their body weight. The slow, controlled pace contributes to muscle toning without being hard on the joints.

5. Pilates

While both yoga and Pilates can help improve flexibility, Pilates is more focused on strengthening the abs and tightening the obliques.

6. Swimming

Lap swimming is often compared to running when it comes to burning calories. With swimming, the body gets a full body workout that’s easier on the joints.

7. Kayaking

Kayaking is an alternative to swimming for people who want to be in the water without actually getting in the water. It’s great for training the upper body and core.

8. Rowing

The rowing machine is another low impact exercise equipment that can be done indoors. It’s good for the core, arms, legs and back.

The benefits of low impact exercises


Low impact workouts are known to be gentle on the joints. However, that’s not their only benefit. Here are more reasons why people should take a break from doing high impact exercises once in a while.

1. Reduced risk of injury.

Low impact exercise reduces the risk of joint damage and injuries simply due to its low-impact nature. Because of this, a person is more likely to continue and be consistent with their workouts.

2. Improved mobility and flexibility.

Slow-paced exercises like yoga and Tai Chi help build strength, flexibility and mobility. Combining yoga and Pilates also increases endurance and core strength while improving posture.

3. Increased cardiovascular health.

Low impact doesn’t always mean low intensity. Pilates can be just as high intensity as other forms or exercise and it build core strength, too.

Walking or cycling can be beneficial for people who are concerned with heart problems but are otherwise advised not to engage in high intensity workouts. In fact, doing spin exercises is helpful because the person is in a controlled environment indoors and the intensity or level of activity can be managed.

The disadvantages of low impact exercises

Going low-impact still has its limitations. For example, walking doesn’t raise the heart rate as high and as quick as running or other high impact workouts. This means that a person has to exercise longer in order to get the same cardiovascular benefit as high intensity exercises.

In addition, low impact exercise is less effective in building bone density. That’s why weight-lifting is often advised in building stronger bones.

While low impact exercise equipment like elliptical and spinning machines help tone the muscles, they’re particularly focused on the lower part on the body and won’t necessarily build muscle mass.

While the elliptical is low impact, the person may experience foot numbness because the feet are planted flat throughout the exercise. Also, the prolonged elliptical motion of the footplate as it moves forward places more stress on the knees overtime.

The Arc Trainer is actually a good alternative to the elliptical. The Arc Trainer benefits include less stress on the knees because of its arc motion.

Because the Arc Trainer mimics real life movement similar to hiking or hill climbing, it’s a more functional workout than the elliptical machine.

Additional Arc Trainer benefits include better motion and alignment with the body. The lower body gets a better workout toning the quads, glutes and hamstrings.

Try this

To get the best out of low impact exercise equipment, try the Arc Trainer.

Arc Trainer Benefits:

  • Lesser strain on the knees and ankles due to its arc motion
  • More calories burned than on a treadmill or elliptical
  • Functional workout that’s good for the back and lower body muscle toning

Both low impact and high impact exercises have pros and cons. Switching between these two types of exercises is beneficial to the body.

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