Top three ways to do low impact cardio

According to a Medline study, “low-impact, moderate-intensity exercise training of the type that can be considered well-rounded in nature provides a sufficient stimulus to augment aerobic fitness, beneficially affects leg strength, and increases feelings of vigor in older adults.”

Now, some low-impact exercises won’t raise your heart rate much (think Yoga or Pilates), but others are great for cardio. Health Status defines this as,

“Cardio exercise uses large muscle movement over a sustained period of time keeping your heart rate to at least 50% of its maximum level.”

There are quite a few low impact cardio options, but today we’ll discuss only the most popular: swimming, elliptical and stationary cycling.


Swimming pool with soft lights



Most people can swim, and the buoyancy of water makes this type of exercise the gentlest option for your joints. You can read more about getting back into the swim of things in our recent blog. Since cardio requires large, full-body movements, we recommend you learn these two strokes: Butterfly and Freestyle.

• Freestyle stroke - The freestyle stroke is more of a forward crawl with the body rotating side to side. To get this stroke right, instructional videos are helpful, especially if you’re a visual learner.

• Butterfly stroke - A hard stroke to master, the Butterfly engages the core heavily as the legs are made into ‘dolphin fins’ and the arms fly out horizontally. Since this stroke is so difficult, we recommend for all learners one of the many instructional videos that are available.



According to Self, “If you're comparing it to running on a treadmill, you will naturally be expending less energy (and calories) because you don't have to pick up your feet, explains Pire. But this actually gives the machine an edge if you're looking for a cardio routine that's easy on your feet, ankles, knees, and hips. Training on the elliptical is a weight-bearing workout, but it's low impact on your body because you don't strike the ground with every stride.”

Here are some top tips to get the most from your workout:

• Choose a machine with moving arm bars so you work your torso as well.

• Work the resistance setting up over time to push yourself.

• Keep your back straight, knees unlocked and feet flat on the pads.


Stationary cycling

With the confidence you won’t fall or travel too far to return, stationary cycles can offer the same great workout as outdoor cycling. According to Healthline,

“A stationary bike workout is a low-impact workout that uses smooth movements to strengthen bones and joints without putting much pressure on them. This makes it a good workout option for people with joint issues or injuries."

"Your ankles, knees, hips, and other joints can be put under a lot of stress when running, jogging, jumping, or doing other high-impact aerobic exercises. Because your feet don’t lift off the pedals with a stationary bike, this option is kinder to your joints, but it still provides a challenging and effective workout.”

Some tips to improve your session:

• Choose an upright bike over a recumbent cycle, if you can, unless you have lower back problems.

• Adjust the seat height to fit in a comfortable position before beginning.

• Ensure to drink water at regular intervals.

• Alternate fast pedaling with slow for a HIIT style, on the highest comfortable resistance for you.

Read more fitness, health and wellbeing tips or enquire about joining an Audley Club near you.