How to Get the Most Out of Low Impact Exercise


Are you starting back to exercise after an injury and you don’t want to risk getting hurt again?

Do you want the benefits of exercise but your body hurts if you run and jump?

Is it possible to burn calories, strengthen muscles, and improve the capacity of your heart and lungs without all the high impact moves?


Low impact exercise does not have to be “light” or “easy”. It can get your heart rate up, build muscle, and be hard work. You can absolutely put forth a maximum effort while keeping your feet on the floor.

Some popular low impact exercises include barre class, Pilates, walking and strength training. However, you can make just about any exercise low impact with appropriate modifications.

The problem with low impact exercise is that people often aren’t getting the results they desire because they are staying in their comfort zone. In order to make a change, your body must be forced to adapt. It can be easy to just go through the motions of low impact activities without pushing your body to this point.

To get the most out of your low impact exercise, and get the benefits you desire from the time you put in, here are some tips:

  1. Focus Your Mind

    You can get the most out of any workout when you are mindful in the present moment. Start by setting your intention to keep your mind focused on the workout at the very beginning. Remain aware when your mind wanders to “What do I need to pick up at the grocery store?” Or “Where should we go for date night?”.

    When there is a shift in focus away from the movement at hand, you lose workout intensity. When you focus on the muscle you are working or the alignment you are trying to maintain, you improve muscle activations and it will show in your results.

  2. Control Your Movements

    Controlling each movement and muscle contraction will result in a more vigorous workout. Without control, you are relying on momentum and not getting the deep muscle contraction that will result in improved strength and muscle definition.

    You use focus here too as you concentrate on starting the movement from the muscle you are working. For example, during bicep exercises, be sure to start the movement from the front of your arm as it pulls your elbow into a bent position. Conversely, you see a lot of people starting a bicep circle with a swing of the shoulder.

  3. Add Arms

    Add upper body movements to a leg, core, or cardio exercise will increase overall instantly. In fact, your heart rate and breathing will increase more rapidly with upper body rather than leg exercises.

    For example, curing a step aerobic class you can reach your arms overhead as you step up or choose cardio equipment like an elliptical training that a really uses the upper body.

  4. Incorporate High Intensity

    Low impact does not have to mean low intensity. Activity like cycling, swimming and skiing put little pressure on your joints, but if you work hard, you are challenging your body in n intense way.

    HIIT (high intensity interval training) programs can even be performed with stationary squats, pushups, side shuffles, ect instead of jumping jacks and burpees. The goal is to increase your heart rate, breathe heavy, and break a sweat.

  5. Don’t Quit

    With any type of exercise, you must reach “muscle overload” to enact change. Don’t quit too early – before you feel your muscles fatigue. Although we don’t want to push past pain, muscle burning or mild trembling is a normal part of this process.

    For example, in a yoga or barre class, hold the position until you can’t a second longer. As your legs start to burn in a pulsing squat, your muscles are reaching overload and will get stronger as they recover.

We encourage clients new to fitness or those with a history of joint pain or back problems to focus on low impact exercise. You are less likely to be injured and can still exercise the physical, emotional, and psychological benefits of exercise.

If you have questions about current injuries, want to prevent past injuries from coming back, just want to get AND stay fit . . . Download our Free EBook “7 Secret Recovery Strategies That Pro Athletes Know and Use”. Click the link below to learn more about our ultimate Get Fit And Stay Fit Guide.