Low-impact exercises are activities that place minimal stress on the joints, bones, and muscles. Some examples of low-impact exercises include walking, cycling, swimming, and yoga.
There are several benefits to low-impact exercise for injury prevention and recovery:
Reduced risk of injury:
Reduced risk of injury is one of the main benefits of low-impact exercises. Since low-impact exercises place less stress on the joints, bones, and muscles, there is a lower risk of injury compared to high-impact exercises. This is why low-impact exercises are often recommended for individuals who are recovering from an injury, have a condition that affects their joints, such as osteoarthritis, or are at risk of injury due to age or other factors.
Low-impact exercises are also suitable for individuals of all fitness levels, including those who are new to exercise or are returning to exercise after a long break. They can be modified to suit individual fitness levels and goals, making them an accessible form of exercise for a wide range of people.
Examples of low-impact exercises include:
- Tai chi
- Elliptical training
- Resistance band training
- Rowing machine
- Aquatic exercises
It’s also good to mix up the exercises and make a varied program that can target multiple body parts and muscles.
Improved cardiovascular health:
Improved cardiovascular health is another benefit of low-impact exercises. Cardiovascular exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, is any activity that increases the heart rate and breathing for an extended period. Low-impact exercises such as walking, cycling, swimming, and rowing machines are examples of activities that can improve cardiovascular fitness.
When you engage in low-impact exercises, your heart works harder to pump oxygen-rich blood to your muscles, which in turn makes it stronger and more efficient. Regular cardiovascular exercise can help to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, by decreasing the risk factors such as high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and obesity.
Low-impact exercises are also a good choice for people who have joint pain or arthritis, who may find high-impact exercises such as running or jumping to be uncomfortable. They can also be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels, as the intensity can be adjusted to suit individual needs.
It is generally recommended to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity a week, or a combination of both, along with muscle-strengthening activity at least two days a week.
Improved balance and coordination:
Improved balance and coordination are other benefits of low-impact exercises, particularly exercises such as yoga and Tai chi. These types of exercises require you to maintain a specific posture or move through a series of postures, which can help to improve balance and coordination.
Yoga, for example, involves a combination of physical postures, deep breathing, and meditation, which can help to improve both physical and mental balance and coordination. Tai chi is also a form of martial arts that emphasizes slow, flowing movements and deep breathing, which can help to improve balance and coordination, as well as flexibility and muscle strength.
When you have better balance and coordination, you are less likely to fall and injure yourself, especially in older adults who are at higher risk of falls. Improving balance and coordination also can improve overall physical function and independence in daily activities.
It’s worth mentioning, that balance and coordination exercises can be done by people of all ages, and not only older adults, as they can help in preventing falls and injuries, and enhance physical performance in athletes and other physically active individuals.
Low-impact exercises can be an effective way to relieve stress and tension, both physically and mentally. The physical movement of low-impact exercises such as yoga, tai chi, and walking can help to release tension in the muscles and promote relaxation. Additionally, many low-impact exercises incorporate deep breathing and/or meditation techniques, which can have a calming effect on the mind and body.
Yoga, in particular, is well known for its stress-relieving properties. The combination of physical postures, deep breathing, and meditation can help to calm the mind and reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. Tai chi and mindfulness-based exercises like walking meditation also have been found to have similar effects on stress relief.
The mere act of engaging in physical activity can also act as a form of stress relief. Regular exercise can help to release endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. Additionally, the distraction and focus required by the exercise can provide a mental break from stressors.
It’s worth noting that the stress relief benefits of exercise can be different for each individual, and the exercise that works for one person to relieve stress might not work for another person, so it’s important to find the type of exercise that works best for you.
Good for bone health:
Weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises can be beneficial for maintaining bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become fragile and brittle. Low-impact exercises can be a good alternative for those who can’t or prefer not to engage in high-impact exercises.
Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, stair climbing, and dancing, put stress on the bones and stimulate the cells that build new bones. Resistance exercises, such as weight lifting and using resistance bands, also help to increase muscle mass and strength, which can help to maintain bone density.
Research has found that regular physical activity, including low-impact exercises, can help to increase bone density, especially in postmenopausal women and older adults. However, it’s worth noting that people with osteoporosis need to be cautious in their choice of exercises and may need to avoid certain types of exercises that put excessive stress on the bones, such as high-impact exercises, or exercises that require a lot of bending or twisting of the spine. It’s always recommended to consult with a doctor or physical therapist before starting a new exercise program especially if you have any existing conditions or are at risk of osteoporosis.
While low-impact exercises are less stressful on the bones and joints than high-impact exercises, it’s still important to engage in regular exercise for bone health and overall health.