5 low-impact cardio exercises to try

Low-impact cardio exercises are something we can all do to improve both our fitness levels and our general health. Swimming, walking, cycling and even rowing are exercises that can fit nicely into a daily routine. Are you ready to dive in? Let’s go!

Low-impact cardio exercises for low-intensity training

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to constantly push your training, and your body, to its limits! Low-intensity training helps maintain optimal physical fitness whilst reducing the risk of injury.

Cardio exercises are good for heart and lung health and should always be part of your fitness routine. Yes! Including your low-impact workout as well.

But remember, if you have any health issues and you’re new to the world of working out, ask an expert!

What is low-intensity exercise? Learn the basics

So, high-impact workouts come into contact with the floor or equipment, while low impact workouts come into contact with very little. If you were wondering if “zero impact” activities
exist, yes, they really do, and swimming is one such example.

According to the NHS, low-intensity exercises have a less aggressive impact on our joints. But don’t worry, making them part of your workout doesn’t mean you are ignoring high-intensity training. On the contrary, exercises that have less impact on our joints can reduce the risk of injury and prepare our bodies for more intense workouts. Pretty good news for sports & fitness fanatics like us!

What are the benefits of low-intensity training?

According to the NHS, low-impact cardio workouts not only reduce the risk of injury, but are also a vital part of heart and respiratory health, so they suit everyone.

Low-intensity training can be incorporated in your exercise especially at times when your body needs to rest a little. So, what are these exercises? We have some tips for you. Let’s get straight to the point:

1. Add swimming to your weekly routine

There are lots of good reasons why you should grab your goggles and cap and dive in. Swimming is said to be the best all-round exercise for working all the major muscle groups, helping to regulate your breathing, and for strengthening your abdominal muscles, back muscles, diaphragm and so much more. That’s pretty crazy right?

And yet that’s not all! Another benefit of swimming is that there’s no gravity in the water, meaning there’s much less chance of injury. Swimming can help stretch the muscles and keep the joints loose and flexible. And on top of that, it strengthens your cardio muscles, so overall it’s an excellent low-impact cardio exercise. What are you waiting for?

2. Get outside and go for a long walk

Walking doesn’t require skill, only will, and there are plenty of benefits of walking. And yet it’s not often the first thing that comes to mind when we think about workout.  Walking improves your fitness levels, helps with optimum cardiovascular function and opens your eyes to the beauty around you.

For variety, you could walk on your own, in a group or with your dog, whilst listening to music or your favourite podcast.

The best thing about walking is you can do it every day and it fits easily into a daily routine. Here’s a tip - leave your car at home or get off the bus a few stops earlier. Sometimes even the most deceivingly simple activities can help our overall fitness! So … are you in? Because we are!

3. Take up cycling.

Cycling is doubly useful - it’s a low-intensity cardio exercise and it gets you from place to place using the most eco-friendly transport that’s out there.

Cycling improves cardiovascular function and can even boost your mood. Just make sure you’re careful, especially if you’re cycling around a town. Use the cycle paths and keep safe. Physical activity while enjoying the outside, pretty great, isn’t it ?

4. Give rowing a go

If you thought rowing was out of your league, think again. Like cycling, rowing works all your muscles and gives you a complete workout, improving cardiovascular health, breathing and posture.

Perfect if you want a low-intensity workout that improves cardiovascular performance.

And what’s more, rowing gives you the chance to get out into nature and breath in that fresh air. Another way to kill two birds with one stone!

If you’re still not convinced, bear with us! We may only see beautiful rivers, lakes and reservoirs on our TV screens as we stare out of our windows at a concrete jungle. But don’t lose heart. Did you know you can row at the gym? Rowing machines simulate rowing movements and are a great way of getting a low-impact workout. Try it out for yourself the next time you are at the gym.

5. Try out the elliptical machine

If you’re lucky enough to have access to one at the gym and you prefer to exercise indoors, wear out that elliptical machine! This machine helps improve cardiovascular health while their low-impact is kind to your joints. They also help with balance and work your muscles. Yes, you can still enjoy that same machine we all loved to play on as kids!

Low-impact cardio exercises are not only good for your health and fitness levels. They also relax you and bring a bit of fun into your workout. Include your favourite in your workout.

Written by: Green Park Content

Any medical advice and views expressed are those of the author; readers should obtain medical advice.


[1] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/canoeing-and-kayaking-health-benefits

[2] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/swimming-health-benefits

[3] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/walking-tips

[4] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/cycling-health-benefits

[5] Harvard Health Publishing - Harvard Medical School. Cardio Exercise.

[6] https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/tips-for-getting-active


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