Low-impact cardio options abound, which is a good thing – especially as we get older! This is when we are more likely to have aches and pains associated with aging, and high-impact cardio can aggravate our joints; we are also at a higher risk of heart disease, and cardiovascular exercise is a great way to help keep our hearts healthy. So today, let’s look at low-impact cardio workout options – including why cardiovascular workouts are so good for you, how to prevent some of the typical aches and pains you may have as you exercise, and what low-impact cardio options may be right for you!
Low-Impact Cardio: Why Cardio Is Important
Everyone should strive for a balance of cardiovascular exercise, stretching exercises, and strength training workouts. When combined, it’s the most effective way to maintain a healthy weight and promote overall health and wellness.
Here are 10 reasons you should do cardio exercise – it:
- Reduces the risk of heart disease by more than 40%
- Helps to strengthen the heart muscle
- Helps to lower blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels
- Promotes a healthy weight and weight loss
- Regulates blood sugar levels, especially important of you are diabetic or pre-diabetic
- Improves circulation
- Promotes a healthy digestive system
- Can help fight the aging process
- Alleviates symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes
- Helps minimize bone loss
I recommend most people try to get 30 minutes of cardio three or four times a week. Thirty minutes of cardio in one session is the optimal, but if you need to work up to that or are short on time, try 10-minute chunks – it will still get your heart rate up and burn calories! My Whole Body Plan has fun, engaging cardio workouts that can be broken down into shorter lengths of time, or done as a 30-minute workout – start your free trial of my Whole Body Plan today and check them all out!
Preventing Aches and Pains
Low-impact moves (see more below) are a great way to get in the cardio you need, but without aggravating your joints. The good news is that making low-impact cardio your main form of cardio, adding modifications to moves to be easier on your joints, and taking day-today precautions – such as stretching and icing – can all help. Try these tips to help prevent aches and pains:
- Warm up before working out. It can help to ease you into a workout, loosening up joints and muscles. All my workouts begin with a mini warm-up, or try my 5-minute Good Morning Wake Up Stretch routines.
- Practice modifications that can ease pain. I have suggestions of how to do a plank if your wrists hurt, ways to minimize knee pain, and more. And if hip pain is an issue for you, try a Standing Hip Opener: stand on your left foot, place your right ankle on your left thigh, right knee bent out to the side. Keep your knees bent, and bend at the hips slightly and push your buttocks back, placing both hands on leg. You can use a chair or wall for balance. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.
- Do a mix of workouts. It can help prevent repetitive injuries, which can occur if you are working the same body part in the same way, day after day. Plus, a variety of moves and and work outs keeps you engaged.
- Continue to get in movement every day. If you stick with low-impact cardio and other low-impact workouts, you can actually help to keep joint pain at bay. So make a pledge to yourself to get out and move – every day!
Low-Impact Cardio Workouts
Now that you know why low-impact cardio is so important, try some of these suggestions! I love every one of these workouts, because they get your heart rate going while giving your joints a break.
- Cycling. Whether it’s indoors or out, cycling is a great low-impact workout that can get your heart pumping. Because it is a repetitive motion, make sure you mix your cycling in with other forms of exercise.
- Swimming. A very low-impact form of exercise, swimming is great for anyone with arthritis or joint pain – it helps to stimulate the blood circulation, resulting in less stiff muscles and less joint pain. Plus the buoyancy of the water reduces the impact on your joints.
- Walking. If you can avoid hard surfaces such as concrete or asphalt, and instead walk on grass, sand, or a bouncy track, walking is a great way to get in a low-impact cardio workout. It’s my favorite form of exercise – I even have a 30-Minute Walk With Me Workout in my Whole Body Plan that you can do right at home!
- EVER BETTER™ Air Walker. I love this new piece of at-home workout equipment! It allows you to move your legs in all directions, for a targeted lower-body workout, while getting in your cardio – with little to no impact on your joints! Plus it has wide pedals and secure handgrips, and can easily fold and roll under the bed. I use my EVER BETTER™ Air Walker a few times a week and love the results!
In addition, yoga and Pilates are wonderful low-impact forms of exercise, though they may not give you that heart-pumping cardio workout like the suggestions above. They do, however, provide that wonderful stretch we need to keep joints limber and healthy!
I hope these suggestions help YOU get on a cardio path that makes your joints feel great!
Let’s get fitter, together, inside and out,