Whether you’re recovering from an injury, looking for a gentler routine after a bout of intense training, or simply not in the mood to pound the pavement, there’s a low-impact exercise for everyone. Just don’t make the mistake of mistaking low-impact as ineffective: these 5 exercises will help you torch calories and burn fat without wreaking havoc on your joints and ligaments.
If you think walking won’t help you get in shape, think again. Walking is an activity that can easily be tailored to become more challenging by adding speed, incline, or weight. (If you’re a new parent, try strapping your kid onto your back and walking for a few miles – you’ll feel the burn!) Seek out hills or simply walk faster if you want to up your calorie burn. While you’re at it, remember to enjoy the stress-busting benefits of being out in nature.
If you’ve put off trying Zumba because you’re worried about the choreography, remember that a good instructor knows how to teach beginners. Tell her it’s your first class and expect her to help you with your form. Zumba, or Latin-inspired dance class, is one of those workouts that doesn’t even seem like exercise: you’ll be so distracted dancing to the music you’ll forget you’re working up a sweat in the process.
3. Dumbbell Chest Press on Bench
This low-impact strength move will work your arms and chest without causing a lot of stress on your body. Lie with your back on a bench (or coffee table, if you’re working out at home), hold a weight in each hand toward your chest, and press your arms straight up toward the ceiling. Slowly lower the weights back down to your chest. Concentrate on keeping your shoulders down throughout the move.
If you want to go easy on your joints and still get some serious cardio in, take your workout to the pool. Water’s buoyancy creates less stress for your ligaments, but also more resistance for an effective workout. Swimming is a particularly good summertime exercise since your body doesn’t overheat in the cooling water.
5. Fusion Classes
Classes that involve two or more styles of exercise (think dance and yoga) can mix up a stale workout routine while still going easy on the joints. Any combination you can think of (Pilates and boxing, anyone?) probably exists, so check out the class schedules at your nearby gyms or research workout videos you can do at home.