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Low Impact Exercise Options for Beginners

written by Guest Blogger October 11, 2012

In a few of our recent posts, we’ve been discussing the superb idea of setting up a home gym. We mentioned possibly investing in a treadmill or stationary bike, both being low impact exercises. Today, Faith Fernandez shares with us a few more low impact exercise ideas for beginners!

When you’re just beginning an exercise routine, especially if you’re going it alone rather than working with a professional fitness instructor, it’s important to work your way up to more intense levels. Why? Firstly, you want to enjoy yourself so that you continue with your routine. You won’t be doing yourself any favours if you push yourself too hard and end up despising your activity time.

Secondly, and this ties in with the first reason, if you go too hard, you’re more prone to injuries. Beginners lack the muscle strength and flexibility to properly navigate various moves and an intense routine. At least right now and without the appropriate knowledge.

The following exercises are as safe for beginners as they are effective:

1) Speed walking

While running and jogging are considered to be high-impact exercises, speed walking is not. What makes speed walking a low-impact exercise is that there is no bounce in the step. With running and jogging, the feet alternate and land on the ground one at a time. That puts stress on the knees, spine, and more.

With speed walking, both feet are almost always on the ground at the same time. As one moves ahead, the other glides behind and supports the weight during shifting. The heel of one foot and the toe of the other constantly touch the ground.

Speed walking is much more effective than walking because it is more intense and puts more stress on the heart. This makes it a more effective cardiovascular exercise and helps you burn more calories in a shorter duration.

2) Swimming

Swimming is a very low-impact exercise that’s good for everyone no matter their current fitness levels. In fact, it is one of the best overall total-body exercises out there. The reason why swimming is so effective is that it works the entire body at once. To swim, you have to kick your legs, paddle with your arms, turn your head from side to side to breathe, and more.

All of these movements strengthen multiple muscle groups simultaneously and makes you more flexible as well. For seniors, swimming is especially beneficial because the water supports body weight and takes all of the pressure off of knees and other joints. Try a variety of different strokes to focus on improving specific muscle groups.

3) Dancing

One of the major complaints of exercise is that it is boring. Luckily, beginners can dance their way to good health. Not only is dancing fun for many, it is an effective form of cardiovascular exercise. Dancing is generally low-impact and very safe for people with sensitive joints. Since it is so interesting, people are much more prone to sticking to it in the long-run. You can dance with a partner or in a group for even more fun and motivation.

4) Yoga

Since beginners are prone to more injuries, stretching can help to reduce them by improving flexibility and range of motion. Yoga is a great form of exercise that combines stretches and holds with balance and breathing. Exercises requiring balancing oneself actually strengthens and tones the body more effectively than many other exercises because minor muscles (ones we don’t normally use) are activated to maintain balance.

5) Cycling

If you enjoy nature and the outdoors, you can bike for half an hour to an hour each day. Cycling is another low-impact option that can be done with friends or your significant other. While it doesn’t burn quite as may calories as some of the exercises mentioned above, it can be very fun. You will want to bike more often and for longer because you enjoy it. If you prefer staying indoors, a stationary bike works just as well.

About the Author

Faith Fernandez writes for Orbit Fitness, Western Australia’s largest supplier of treadmills, elliptical machines and other fitness equipment.

A few other low impact exercise ideas: a rebounder (a mini-trampoline) and floor exercises to work your core. Both of these options are super effective and safe. Do you have any favourite low impact exercises to share with us?

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