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Why is low impact exercise good?

Two women hike through the woods in autumn.

Any kind of physical activity that limits heavy impacts that strain your joints is classed as low impact exercise . This type of exercise is growing in awareness and popularity for all kinds of people – but what’s so good about it? In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits to this kind of exercise and how it compares to higher impact alternatives.

Is low impact exercise better?

When you’re weighing up your options between two different types of exercise, it can be tempting to assume that one is better than the other. In broad strokes, this simply isn’t true because it isn’t a simple equation where one type is more worthwhile than the other. After all, what’s good for one person isn’t always good for another. It all depends on your individual fitness goals, current activity levels, physical health and your personal preferences.

On an individual level, you might find that you prefer solely low impact activity, or entirely high impact exercise. Or, and this is probably the most likely, you might find a mixture of both works well for you. Experimenting with different types of exercise can help you to discover your preferred arrangement – but remember, you don’t have to stick to the same thing all the time. You might even be more likely to achieve your fitness goals if you keep some variety in your routine by switching up the types of activities you do.

As with starting any new exercise routine, it’s important to consult your GP or pharmacist for advice, especially if you have an underlying injury or condition that could complicate matters. This way, you can be sure you’re minimising your risk of making things worse or causing injury in your new routine.

Below, we’ll explore some of the benefits of low impact exercise to help you decide whether you should incorporate it into your health and wellbeing routine.

Can you lose weight with low impact exercise?

Many people take up exercise with the aim of losing weight or maintaining their current weight, but can low impact exercise achieve this? The answer is yes! In order to maintain your weight, you need to be burning roughly as many calories as you’re consuming – but your body doesn’t really care how you go about it, whether you go out for a sprint every morning or prefer something a little more gentle.

A great all-rounder low impact workout is rowing, which can help you to burn fat while building muscle. It has the added benefit of really feeling like a workout – you’re sure to build up a sweat! If you live near the sea or a river, you may be able to join an on-the-water rowing club to get the full outdoor experience, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it if you live further inland. Most gyms and fitness centres have rowing machines for members to use.

Alternatively, if you were looking for something that’s a little easier to fit into your schedule, it’s worth knowing that more commuter-friendly forms of low impact exercise also count. In fact, walking and cycling may even be something you’re already doing without even considering it exercise. If you’re comfortable enough walking to the shops or around your neighbourhood, then consider stepping it up with longer walks or hikes if you’re looking to ramp up the workout.

Can low impact exercise lift your mood?

Another key benefit of exercise is its capacity to boost mental wellness. Physical activity is known to up endorphin production within your brain, creating feelings of happiness and satisfaction – and low impact activity can do that as well as any other type.

The mood-lifting effects of exercise might be increased by combining exercise with other uplifting activities, such as time spent not just outdoors but in nature. For instance, heading out for a bike ride or a walk through the countryside can keep you fit and put a smile on your face.

Who is low impact exercise good for?

Strictly speaking, low impact exercise is good for just about anyone – there are even types of low impact exercise available for people who use a wheelchair or walking stick. More specifically, here are some examples of people who might benefit from low impact exercise more than alternative activities:

  • People with joint problems 
  • Those who haven’t exercised much recently and need to ease into it 
  • People with impaired mobility 
  • People who don’t enjoy high impact activities 
  • Those who are recovering from an injury, operation or illness
  • Pregnant women and women who’ve recently had a baby 
  • People who struggle to find time to exercise otherwise.

If you have any health concerns at all, it’s a good idea to speak to a doctor or healthcare professional to discuss any risks that might be associated with starting up a new exercise routine.

But it’s also worthwhile to know that there are many forms of low impact exercise that don’t really register in people’s minds as exercise. For example, a lot of housework and gardening tasks class as low impact exercise – it’s simply a way of getting your body moving without putting undue strain on your joints.

This can make it easier to fit low impact exercise into your routine if you’re very busy. A simple switch like taking the stairs instead of an escalator or lift can help to boost your fitness, even if it feels insignificant. When it comes to exercise, it really is the case that every little helps.

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