Running, jumping, and high-intensity workouts get the heart pumping and the endorphins flowing, but so can low-intensity workout options. Low-intensity exercises are those requiring gentler, more fluid movements that put minimal stress on joints. Cycling, cross-country skiing, and stationary skaters are a few examples of exercises that result in less wear and tear on the body and may reduce your chance of injury.
While low-impact workouts offer results, some people shy away from them for a simple reason: they think they won’t provide enough of an exercise challenge. MYX Coach Jesse Barton says there’s a tendency to confuse low impact with low intensity.
However, low-impact workouts can be high intensity, too. They’re not mutually exclusive. Low impact moves put less strain on your musculoskeletal system, while low-intensity workouts refer to the amount of cardiovascular stress a workout provides.
“Low intensity is any time you're working out in zone one or two in terms of heart rate,” Jesse says. “So if you're working at, let's say, 50 to 70% of your maximum heart rate, we would call that low intensity.”
Don’t be fooled that low-impact means easy. The mechanics look different than in a high-impact circuit, but you are still working hard. For instance, perhaps you want to get in a 30-minute, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. For a low-impact HIIT version, you could incorporate moves that are easy on the joints, while also adding resistance to increase strength. For example, you could add squat to overhead press, side lunge to triceps kickback, or dumbbell chest press intervals to your routine.
Adding weights can also help you increase fat burn, as strength training is known to help you burn more calories even after the workout when in a resting state. You can get the best of both worlds: low-impact and weight lifting.
MYX Coach Briana Butler agrees, citing barre as a great example of a blend of low-impact and weightlifting. “People looking for low-impact, low-intensity strength work love barre,” she said. “And that's going to help with building a longer, leaner, and stronger muscular foundation.”
You can also build strength without dumbbells and resistance bands commonly used in a barre routine. According to Coach Briana, you can train the upper and lower body and core without equipment. Think pushups, mountain climbers, situps, and other bodyweight moves.
Bottom line? Don’t write off low-impact activity. Low impact doesn’t mean low effort or low reward. MYXing it up with lower-impact moves during a week of exercise can be just what you need to hit your fitness goals.