6 Low-Impact Workouts That Torch Calories

Low-impact workouts are easier on your joints and may improve your posture and flexibility. Find out which low impact exercises are for you.

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By Olivia DeLong

You don’t have to let low back pain, an achy knee or an ankle that hasn’t been the same since you sprained it stop you from working out. Low-impact workouts can help. These workouts don’t involve much pounding or jumping and most importantly, they put less strain on muscles and joints.

Moderate aerobic exercise has been shown to lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and help you lose weight. Some low impact exercises may even help elongate your body, and improve your posture and flexibility.

Whether you’re getting over an injury or you want to add some variety to your fitness plan, here are six low-impact workouts to try stat—your joints will thank you.

Walking

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Appropriate for all age groups, walking may be the most convenient low-impact exercise on the list. It’s easy on your joints and may even keep people with osteoporosis from losing bone mass. But that’s not all. Walking can boost your mood, help you burn calories, strengthen your leg and abdominal muscles, and increase the blood circulation to your joints. 

Grab a friend and walk the neighborhood once a day for 30 minutes—you can catch up with one another and shed pounds at the same time. Calories burned per hour based on 160-pound woman: 276 if walking 3.5 mph 

Yoga

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The yoga poses done in classes today have been around for more than 150 years, yet 11 million Americans are still practicing yoga. Why? Yoga, the practice of uniting the mind, body and spirit using postures, breathing techniques and meditation, is known for lowering stress levels.

And not only will yoga ease your mind, the practice can improve your flexibility and posture, helping you stand taller even after you leave class. Those with chronic conditions like back pain, arthritis or carpal tunnel may notice pain relief with yoga, too. Find an outdoor class in the park or head inside for hot yoga to de-stress and tone up. Calories burned per hour based on a 160-pound woman: 218

Indoor cycling, biking

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Whether you hit the pavement with your road bike or check out a spinning class down the street, you’re likely to work up a sweat.

As long as your bike is set up properly and you have the appropriate shoes, indoor cycling poses little harm to your knees, hips and ankle joints. There’s no pounding involved thanks to the fluid circular motion that allows you to flex and extend your lower limbs with ease.

Outdoor biking is good for you, too. Assorted terrains make for an automatic interval workout, without all the impact on your lower body. Grab the whole family and head out for a spin. Calories burned per hour based on a 160-pound woman: 435 if biking 10 to 12 mph

Barre

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It depends on what kind of class you attend, but most barre workouts combine ballet-style exercises with yoga-inspired moves. It’s common for routines to involve small one-inch movements targeting smaller muscle groups that may be overlooked during other workouts.

Standing exercises using the ballet barre and mat exercises on the floor will tone your core, improve your flexibility, stability, mobility and balance without putting extra stress on your joints. Barre workouts are low impact because they involve isotonic training or workouts that use your body weight to strengthen joint mobility. Calories burned per hour based on a 160-pound woman: 218

Elliptical workouts

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Some say the monotonous elliptical movement is boring and doesn’t yield results. But that’s not the case. Elliptical workouts provide a safe and effective workout, especially if you’re nursing a joint or muscle injury.

Elliptical workouts prevent all of your body weight from striking the ground, which means you’ll increase your heart rate without putting much stress on your knees, hips and lower back. Bonus: Some elliptical machines have upper body handles that allow you to work your arms at the same time. Try built-in programs with steeper inclines for a more intense workout. Calories burned per hour based on 160-pound woman: 653 

Water-based exercises

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Water exercises like swimming or pool aerobics can help people of all ages, and people that are living with many different conditions.

For people with arthritis, these exercises improve mobility, and help relieve joint pain or stiffness. Post-menopausal women who practice water exercises experience improved bone and muscle strength, and fewer falls. And for older adults, practicing water-based activities helps slow the onset of disabilities.

Try your local gym’s water aerobics classes or hit the lap pool for a relaxing solo workout. Calories burned per hour based on a 160-pound woman: 290 for water aerobics, 218 to 726 for swimming