Five effective low-impact exercises

Low-impact exercise is perfect for beginner exercisers, as well as older adults.

Five effective low-impact exercises

Low-impact exercise involves having at least one of your feet staying in contact with the ground, or when the movement does not require excessive impact or force on the lower body joints. This type of exercise gives you a great cardio workout without putting too much strain on your body.

Low-impact exercise is perfect for those who are beginners to exercising, as well as older adults, people with arthritis or osteoporosis, pregnant women, obese individuals, and people with bone, joint and connective tissue injuries. 

What are low-impact exercises? 

If you have pre-existing injuries or you’re simply new to exercising, it’s a good idea to get a sense of which exercises will be good for you, based on your needs. 

Remember to warm-up your body before attempting any exercise, and, always stretch afterwards. This will help your body recover and keep it in tip-top shape for your next workout.  


Choose level surfaces that will absorb the impact, such as grass or dirt. Focus on keeping your posture straight and your shoulders rolled back. Start with a short distance and gradually increase it. Eventually try to aim for 30 to 60 minutes daily. 


Go cycling on an exercise bike or bicycle, avoiding very steep inclines if you have knee or hip problems. Cycling is great for those with ankle and back pain, as well as neck pain, because it keeps your body steady instead of putting more strain on your neck from your head bobbing up and down, such as when running. 

Swimming laps

Swimming helps alleviate stress on your bones and joints, while improving your strength, fitness and flexibility.  Try for as many laps as you can, and gradually increase them: to swim for 30 to 60 minutes. Breaststroke is the lowest-impact swimming style, but if you’ve got bad hips you might want to steer clear of this stroke and go for freestyle. 

Lunges and squats

Lunges and squats are great exercises for strengthening the muscles in your thighs, hips and buttocks. If you have bad knees, strengthening the legs and muscles around the knees by doing lunges and squats will help stabilise the knee joint. Always check your form as you do these exercises, and ensure you’re using the right technique. It is better to do shallow lunges and squats with excellent technique, than to go too deep and cause yourself an injury. When doing exercises of this nature, it is good to do sets of three, increasing the number of repetitions as you develop. Start with three sets of five repetitions, performing 15 lunges and squats each in total, about two to three times per week. 

How to do squats properly.   

How to do lunges properly.

Aerobic workouts

Cardio training and dance routines are great low-impact exercises. They involve using your own bodyweight (and sometimes small hand weights) to perform effective low-impact exercises. 

For an easy low-impact workout, why not try this 15-minute total body workout for beginners by Daniel and Kelly from Fitness Blender? 

Find out more at How Stuff Works


    To make a comment, please register or login
    27th Feb 2015
    thank you great info
    27th Feb 2015
    Did any see the news report about a week ago about the 102 year old woman? She had a fall about a year ago and broke her pelvis and hips I think. Her family thought her days were seriously numbered. After surgery she was put on a typical rehabilitation program which she completed. She then decided to continue and joined a gym. On her 102 birthday, she decided to take a challenge and do one squat for each birthday! 102! She now hold the world record in her age group for doing squats.

    She would put a lot of people a quarter of her age to shame. The moral: use it or lose it!
    27th Feb 2015
    I started at a gym 3 weeks ago. I go three times a week and do treadmill and bike.
    I work out for 40 minutes on each machine and have lost 3 kgs so far. Very pleased with myself. It's okay to be on a diet to lose weight but exercising will help you to
    lose weight faster. I had a Triple By-pass 3 years ago and started back walking 3klms a day for 5 days a week just 6 weeks after the op. I'm 71 and in pretty good nick when I look at some of the younger ones at the gym.

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