Best Low-Impact Cardio Workouts
When in doubt, walk. Walking doesn’t require a machine, equipment or gym membership. With a good pair of shoes and safe conditions, you can walk anywhere. Although not as rigorous as high-intensity running or other low-impact workouts, such as rowing, walking at a brisk pace for 30 to 60 minutes burns fat and improves health. Increase the intensity of the walk by going up and down hills, unless this hurts your knees. Another option is to hold light weights, such as 2-pound weights, as you walk. Avoid boredom by changing your route.
4 Elliptical Machine
Elliptical machines are like a treadmill and stationary bike morphed into one. You use the machine while standing, so it burns more than a bike. The movement involves a pedaling motion, so you avoid the impact of a treadmill. Many elliptical machines also have handles you hold and move back and forth with your arms, giving you both an upper and lower body workout. Elliptical machines are straightforward to use. Stand on the pedals and hold the handles. As you pedal your right foot forward, push the left handle forward. Adjust the tension to work harder or easier. If you get bored pedaling forward, challenge yourself by pedaling backward, but if you feel any knee pain, only pedal forward.
3 Aerobic Dance
Boogieing to blast the fat and improve cardiovascular health is effective—and fun. Don’t worry about packing leg warmers and a headband in your gym bag. Today’s aerobic dance classes are varied to meet any dance interest. From ’50s music to show tunes, disco to hip hop, odds are there is a gym near you that offers a cardio dance option. Try Zumba, which incorporates Latin American dance moves such as the Samba and Mambo. Most group fitness classes offer modifications so you can do the steps without any jumping or impact. You can increase the intensity of your workout by moving your hands over your head.
Like rowing, swimming engages your entire body and the water adds resistance, making it top-notch non-impact aerobic exercise. Another advantage to swimming is you can vary your strokes to keep from getting bored. The freestyle stroke, sometimes called the crawl, is the most common, high-intensity stroke you’ll see at the pool. With your body facing down, kick your legs, keeping them straight. Alternate your arms so that one is reaching forward in the water as the other is pulling down, propelling you through the water. As you lift your arm out of the water, turn your head to the side to take a breath and return your face to the water as the arm reaches forward. You can breath on both sides, but many swimmers breath only on the right side. Your arm should reach as far forward as possible and pull through the water all the way down to your thigh, before starting the reach phase again.
The best non-impact exercises use the entire body to boost heart rate, and few do it better than the rowing machine. Rowing is high intensity with no impact. It not only burns calories, but tones nearly every muscle in your body. Start by sitting on the rowing seat and putting your feet in the foot rests. Bend your knees and reach forward for the rowing handles. This is the catch phase. Start the drive phase by pushing back with your legs. Your arms stay straight until your legs are extended, at which point you pull the handles toward the upper part of your stomach. Return to the catch phase by reversing the movement, extending your arms forward, bending your knees and leaning forward.