Low Impact Cardio Ideas and Tips

There’s a common misconception that, when it comes to workouts, low impact equals low intensity. And while low impact workouts can certainly be designed for low intensity, the truth is you can get a fantastic, fat-burning workout in and keep it low impact at the same time. Sound impossible? Not so!

Why Avoid High Impact Exercise?

Some people just don’t like the jarring nature of high impact workouts. For those who are new to their fitness journey, low impact exercise can feel more ”doable”. Others, who live with chronic injuries like arthritis or osteoporosis, are advised to avoid high impact exercise. And some athletes who have experienced injuries to the bones and joints must find a low impact way to get in an effective workout.

What Counts as Low Impact?

The term low impact just means that one foot is in contact with the ground at all times or that you are not lifting weights…that’s it! And there are plenty of low impact forms of exercise that can still get your heart rate up and burn calories.


Is it the trendiest way to engage in a low-impact workout? Probably not. Is it an effective way to raise your heart rate and improve your health? Absolutely!

Walking is appealing because it requires no special skills, gym membership, or equipment. Simply throw on your sneakers, open your front door, and take off!

If you feel walking is too easy, increase the intensity of your workout by:

  • Increasing your pace. You should be walking fast enough that it requires some effort to have a conversation with someone as you walk.
  • Swinging your arms as you walk. Doing so will increase your heartrate.
  • Combining interval training with walking. Add short bursts of speed walking or incorporate more hills into your walk to increase the intensity and the number of calories burned.

Take the Stairs

Walking up a flight of stairs, whether out in the real world or using the stair machine at the gym, can get your heart rate soaring in no time.

Try incorporating stairs into your regular workout routine, climbing a flight at the beginning and/or end of your workout. If stairs are new to you, incorporate 5 minutes of stair climbing into your routine, then slowly increase the amount of time you spend climbing.


Pilates offers an incredibly effective low-impact workout that strengthens, lengthens, and tones muscles while strengthening the body’s core through targeted and repetitive movements.

In addition to the muscular benefits that come from Pilates, I also love the fact that it teaches and celebrates body awareness and control, allowing you to gain control of both breath and movement over time.


Let’s not forget about swimming! It provides a full-body workout but, thanks to the buoyancy of water, the joints of the body never endure impact. And trust me when I say, it only takes 30 minutes of moderately paced swimming to torch through calories.

And so…

Don’t let anyone tell you that low-impact equals low-benefit. It is simply not true. Anyone who has endured the Pilates 100 can attest to the fact that low-impact workouts can leave you looking like a sweaty puddle with muscles that have been thoroughly exercised.

With low-impact exercise you can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of an effective workout without the wear and tear on joints. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a win/win to me!





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