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When most people think of highly effective exercise routines they think of running, jumping, and other high intensity exercises that keep the feet high from the floor and the heart rate even higher. While there is no doubt that high intensity exercise burns calories and can help with weight loss and cardiovascular health, not everyone is cut out for that type of exercise.
Low impact exercise equipment burns calories, tones muscles, and helps increase energy levels. It can be used for weight loss, cardiovascular health, or just to keep your muscles from being overrun with stored fat as you grow older.
Low Impact vs. Low Intensity
You have to note the difference between low impact workouts and low intensity workouts. Low impact exercise equipment refers to the amount of pressure and force that is felt on your body during an exercise. Take running and walking as an example. Anyone who has ever tried to run as an adult knows that a tremendous amount of pressure is placed on the lower body during a run. Walking on the other hand delivers a lot less pressure and force.
Running is considered a high impact exercise while walking is the low impact alternative, but they can both be high intensity. Your intensity level refers to how high your heart rate goes up and how many calories you are burning. The higher your intensity, the more calories you will burn, the more challenging the workout will become, and the more benefit you will get from the workout.
The good news is you can workout at higher intensities while doing low impact exercises. You just have to learn how to push yourself and get the maximum benefit from every workout session.
There are four types of low impact exercise equipment that can help you enjoy a good workout. There are not the only four, but they are the most popular and are widely available for home and commercial use.
Main Types of Low Impact Exercise Equipment
Let’s take a look at each of them . . .
Anyone with two working legs is capable of going out for a walk, but those who have a treadmill in their home are more likely to stick with their workout program. When you have access to a treadmill (preferably in your own home) you have no excuses to skip a workout.
You can also boost your intensity on a treadmill while remaining low impact. Most come with a variety of preprogrammed workouts that automatically adjust your speed and incline to mimic walking up hills and other varying terrains. This allows you to mix up your workouts so they never get boring, but it also boosts your heart rate so you get more benefit from every walk.
Treadmill walking tips
- Pump your arms for maximum calorie burn.
- Walk fast or do intervals of fast/slow segments to burn more in less time.
⇒ Important review: best treadmill
Elliptical trainers have become one of the most popular types of home fitness equipment and they can be virtually impact-free! They are similar to a treadmill, but many people like the different foot position and the ability to go backwards as well as forwards (on some models).
The great thing about an elliptical is you can go fast to mimic a run without taking any of the pounding on your legs that would come with running on the treadmill or outdoors. This means you can pick your heart rate (intensity) to burn more calories and see greater results in less time.
Many elliptical trainers also have preprogrammed workouts that help you manage your speed and pedal direction to target different lower body muscles and burn a ton of calories.
Elliptical Machine workout tips
- Look for models with moving arm handles for a full body workout
- Don’t be afraid to run, since you won’t feel the impact as you would on the ground
⇒ Important review: best elliptical
Biking is one of the oldest forms of exercise and is something that most people do from childhood on into adulthood. Exercise bikes gave adults the ability to get the healthy benefits of biking without leaving their homes, and it happens to be a great form of low impact exercise.
There are a few different types of exercise bikes on the market today, including:
Spin bikes are designed to handle high intensity workouts and with the right instruction or guidance you can burn more calories spinning than running…without the impact on your joints. Your muscles will feel it and you will gain body definition and lose weight, but you won’t be in danger of injury.
Recumbent bikes are great for those who need the least amount of impact on their joints and muscles as possible. They are often used in physical therapy facilities because they position the body for virtually no impact but still allow the user to pedal fast and use different resistance levels to get a high intensity workout.
Exercise bike workout tips
- Choose an upright or spin bike if you don’t absolutely need the less pressure of a recumbent bike.
- Experiment with different riding styles, such as biking in race position if your bike allows it.
⇒ Important review: best exercise bike
If you have ever gone out on a lake in a row boat you know how much of a workout it is to get from one point to another. Many people don’t realize how intense a rowing workout can be until they get on a rowing machine and start to go. Since you make use of your entire body you are working your largest muscle groups, and that really boosts your heart rate.
Rowing machines tend to be more compact and take up less space in the home than the other low impact exercise equipment available today. They are also very simple in design and place very little impact on any one part of the body.
You also get toning benefits for your muscles with a rowing machine, so it is more than just a calorie burning cardio workout.
Rowing machine workout tips
- Don’t be disappointed if you can’t go for very long when you first start. This is normal.
- Push yourself to stay on the machine longer and longer with each session.
- Go at a faster pace to boost your heart rate and burn more calories in less time.
⇒ Important review: best rowing machine
No matter which type of low impact exercise equipment you use, the key to success is consistency. You can burn tons of calories and get in shape quickly without taking your feet off the ground, but you have to stay consistent with your workouts.