There are lots of benefits associated with purposeful movement, including endorphins, heart health, and lower blood pressure. High-impact exercises, like running, hiking, and jump-roping, are great for your heart but might wreak havoc on your ankles, knees, and other parts of your body. If you’re worried about the risk of injury, then you might want to explore low-impact activities that emphasize flow and smoothness while still giving you the benefits of exercise. Here are some options to help you get into the swing of things.
The best low-impact activity you can do is take a walk. Walking not only raises your heart rate and burns calories, but it’s also free, needs no equipment, and you can do it year-round. It’s a great way to get to know your neighborhood better, and you can even make it a social outing by inviting friends to join.
Swimming is a low-impact cardio activity that strengthens endurance and muscles due to the natural resistance of moving in water. Not only is swimming considered a full-body workout, but the water’s natural buoyancy also prevents injury to your joints.
Yoga uses positions and stretches to help build strength, release long-term pain or stiffness, and focus the body and mind. Because yoga poses have a lot of variations, it is easy for people at any level of experience or comfort to begin practicing. The best part is that all you need is a mat and a little space to move around — it can easily be practiced at home.
If you’re interested in fast-paced cardio that doesn’t put too much strain on your knees or joints, consider getting into cycling. Cycling doesn’t have to be as rigorous as a spin class — it can be as simple as biking around your neighborhood or riding a stationary bike at a local gym. Overdoing it can be tough on your back or tailbone, however, so listen to your body.
One of the most effective low-impact activities you can do is Pilates, a workout that focuses on enhancing core strength. Having a solid core has multiple benefits, including improving your posture, helping you develop a better sense of balance, and preventing back pain and injuries. Pilates, like yoga, focuses on poses and slow movement, which is ideal if you are recovering from an injury or trying to avoid stressing your joints.
Low-impact activities don’t have to be exercise — they can be simple, everyday tasks you do around your house, including gardening, laundry, or washing the dishes. These physical activities help you move your body without excess strain by using both agility and focus to get a task done. Just be mindful of your form and the position of your body as you move through your daily tasks so that you don't accidentally sprain something.
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