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The 8 Best Low-Impact Workouts for Weight Loss

Written by Jeremiah Carlos Reilly

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When it comes to weight loss, you may be thinking you’ll have to engage in some tough, sweaty workouts filled with a lot of bouncing (and wear and tear on your joints) if you want to shed body fat. But in fact, the opposite may actually be true. Take a look at the best low-impact workouts for weight loss and how you can easily rid yourself of some unwanted pounds and even enjoy doing it.

What is a Low-Impact Workout?

You have probably heard of low-impact and high-impact workouts, but do you really know the difference between the two? A common misconception is that low-impact exercise is not as effective as its high-impact counterparts and that you can’t lose weight unless you do high-impact workouts. As it turns out, nothing could be further from the truth.

Both high- and low-impact workouts are effective for burning calories, improving your health, and shedding the pounds!

A low-impact workout is gentler on the body as you typically will have at least one foot on the floor at all times. These workouts also don’t involve movements that come into contact with an unmoving force such as punching. In a nutshell, this type of workout doesn’t involve jumping or placing additional force on your body.

Benefits of a Low-Impact Workout

If you have injuries, stiff joints, tendonitis, osteoporosis, arthritis, balancing issues, or are new to exercise, a low-impact workout could be ideal for you. Of course, it’s always best to consult your physician to ensure you’re good to go when it comes to any exercise program, but if you get the green light, then you’ll definitely want to reap some of these benefits of the best low-impact workouts.

Gentle—these activities produce little to no impact, so they won’t exacerbate injuries and are less likely to cause injury.

Build strength—yes, you can still build strength over time with a slower, less jarring workout.

Burn fat—you will burn calories and can shed unwanted pounds with low-impact activities. While high-impact exercise can burn calories faster, you can burn just as many calories during the course of your workout with a low-impact choice, provided you engage in the exercise for a long enough period of time. For example, an hour-long walk may burn off similar calories to a 20-minute jog.

Adherence—since you’re not dreading a tough workout, and you may actually enjoy yourself, you’re much more likely to participate in your workout.

Improve health—you can absolutely improve your health markers across the board with low-impact workouts. You’ll burn fat, increase your cardiovascular capacity, strengthen bones and muscles—all without putting undue stress on your joints.

Try These Best of the Best Low-Impact Workouts

Remember, the best low-impact workouts will still burn fat, especially for beginner to intermediate athletes.

Walking—this is perhaps the easiest, and most underrated, low-impact exercise you can do. Some of the benefits of walking include:

  • Improve cardiovascular health
  • Burn calories
  • Strengthen your legs
  • Strengthen your bones
  • Convenient
  • Free
  • Gentle
  • Fun
  • Can be done with a friend or in a group
  • Improve your posture
  • Reduce depression
  • Can be done anywhere

Swimming—this truly zero-impact workout is an old standby as well—as long as you have access to a pool. And, if you have access to an indoor pool, this can be a year-round activity. Since you have to propel your body forward through water, which is clearly many times more dense than air), you will burn a large number of calories and will also strengthen your muscles at the same time, all while putting zero impact on your joints.

Elliptical machine—this piece of cardiovascular equipment is a mainstay in most fitness facilities, and there are reasons why it’s so popular. Not only is it gentle on your body, but it is also a fun way to burn calories and improve your cardiovascular conditioning. And, depending on the machine, you may even be able to get in a nice arm workout while you’re at it.

Circuit training—this type of resistance training, coupled with a fast pace and high-volume sets, can really burn off the body fat. If you move between weight exercises quickly with minimal rest (or you do some form of quick cardio in between sets, like a step-up), you can even turn this type of workout into a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout and reap the benefits of continuing to burn calories long after you’ve finished your exercise routine.

Biking—with the ability to engage in this workout either indoors or outside, this versatile exercise is a solid low-impact choice. Enjoy the massive cardiovascular benefits of biking and experience the toning effects on your legs and arms that regular biking offers.

Yoga—one of the best low-impact workouts you can add to your repertoire, yoga can help you not only burn calories but can help you increase your flexibility, range of motion, strength, balance, mental clarity, reduce stress, and more.

TRX (Total Body Resistance Exercise)—this type of suspension training uses hanging straps and gravity to create a very challenging workout for your muscles and your core. And, even better, there is no impact on your body. This makes it an ideal low-/no-impact workout option.

Rowing—done properly (using smooth, non-jarring motions), this exercise can help you tone and strengthen your entire body all while greatly improving your cardiovascular fitness.

With this many choices, you’re bound to find one you love that provides all the benefits of exercise without stressing out your joints. Enjoy these best low-impact workouts!

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