Low impact exercises
There is the common misperception that exercise must take a long time and be painful in order to be effective. While a good workout should be a bit of a challenge, it doesn’t need to hurt to be beneficial. Furthermore, research suggests that a moderate-intensity, low impact activity such as yoga or walking, is just as effective as high impact activity in lowering the risk of conditions such as heart disease. Low impact exercises – which can improve your health and fitness without harming weight-bearing joints – are perfect for individuals who are:
- have injured joints, bones, or connective tissue injuries
- have chronic problems such as arthritis, osteoporosis, or stress fractures
- are overweight
- are new to exercise
Effective low impact cardiovascular exercise should allow the heart rate of the participant to reach a level greater than 50 percent of its maximum. Low impact cardiovascular exercises generally have low physical risk and are effective for general fitness.
To find low impact activities, look for anything that involves intense stretching and strengthening components. According to The National Institutes of Health at http://www.nlm.nih.gov walki,ng and swimming are both perfect examples. For most people, walking is a low impact exercise that may be performed at a slow pace or with an intense whole body motion, at speeds in excess of 5 mph; typical conventional walking is done at approximately 2.5-3 mph. This faster type is referred to as power walking. Swimming is a good example of an activity that is generally low impact on the entire body and yet can also be as intense as the swimmer makes it.
Yoga, Pilates, calisthenics, and aerobics routines with no jumping are also low impact activities that you should be able to do while still getting a good cardiovascular workout. Cycling at a medium pace is also considered a low impact activity. Stresses created by cycling come from hard sprints or hill climbing, so with this type of cycling the rider should remain in the seat for the entire activity. Mountain biking will also result in increased impact on the joints, due to the rougher riding surface.