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We live in the era of Crossfit, Zumba, and P90X. It can often feel like you have to endure a breathless, intense, fast-moving, punishing workout to see results. With the joint-jolting ballistic movements that these types of workouts can include, however, this type of high intensity may not be appropriate for every exerciser.  

It is easy to overlook the benefits of low-impact exercise with the misconception that low impact means low intensity. 

Sometimes your body just needs a break. All the pounding and beating from contact sports, running and more can add up and mean more wear and tear on your joints over time. The body has to recover from serious workouts and sometimes it’s just not healthy to go all out all the time. 

Low-impact workouts are often easier on you physically and can help reduce the risk of injury.  

Here are some Great examples of low impact exercise:

  • Cycling, indoor or outdoor
  • Rowing, outdoors, or on a machine
  • Elliptical trainers
  • Swimming and water aerobics
  • Walking
  • Yoga, tai chi, or Pilates
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Stairmaster
  • Strength training
  • Hiking
  • Roller skating or rollerblading

Additionally, F3 is a national organization offering free boot camps and fellowship for men looking to get in shape and engage with others in their community.  F3 Lake Norman has members ranging in age from eight to men in their 60's with a varied level of fitness and ability to participate in the exercise.  

The group has initiated low-impact workouts dubbed "Pain Lab" three times a week where the sessions incorporate training varying from single muscle group exercises to yoga.  I have had the opportunity to lead the Wednesday workouts where the low-impact sessions incorporate single-joint exercises to multi-joint activities. 

The Key Takeaway: Join a group that recognizes the importance of low-impact training. These types of workouts have also opened the group to members recovering from injury and have provided a variation from the boot camp style training for those looking to mix up exercise sessions.  

Plyometric and other explosive style maneuvers are great for performance and sport-specific training but require strong muscles and stable joints to avoid injury.  A stratified exercise regimen can prevent overuse injury and prolong your ability to remain active and healthy.

This article is written by Albert Kaplan, PT, DPT, a physical therapist at OrthoCarolina Mooresville. Originally published on May 17th, 2017, and has been updated on April 23, 2021.

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