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What Is Low-Impact Aerobics?

What Is Low-Impact Aerobics?
A woman rides a stationary bike during a low impact workout. Photo Credit Ken Hurst/iStock/Getty Images

As part of an active lifestyle, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends doing aerobics for at least 150 minutes a week. During this exercise your heart rate should be raised to the point where you can still talk, but not sing. To accomplish this, you can perform low-impact aerobics. This form of exercise can effectively improve your health and doesn't require fancy equipment or a gym membership.

About Low-Impact Aerobics

Low-impact aerobics are often described as exercises during which you always have one foot on the floor. This minimizes the landing force of your feet on the floor, unlike high-impact aerobics, which commonly involve vigorous jumping, shuffling and bouncing motions. Low-impact aerobics are commonly done to music, and in addition to your lower body, you often use your upper body to help raise your heart rate. Low impact shouldn't be confused with low intensity because low-impact activity can still significantly raise your heart rate to the point where it benefits your cardiovascular and respiratory system.

Examples of Low-Impact Aerobics

Walking is one form of low-impact aerobics. You can walk outside, on a treadmill or in place while pumping your arms back and forth. During a beginner's aerobics class, you might do low-impact rhythmic movements, such as grapevines, during which you cross your feet over each other as you travel sideways, or step touches, during which you step your right foot sideways and trail it with your left foot, before reversing the motion. Water aerobics, and using a stair climber, stationary bike, or elliptical machine, are also forms of low-impact aerobic exercise because the natural resistance of the water, and the continuous contact of your feet with the pedals of the machines, minimize the pressure on your bones and joints.

Benefits of Low-Impact Aerobics

Low-impact aerobic exercise minimizes the force on your bones and joints. This reduces your risk of injuries and makes this type of exercise ideal for beginners, senior, pregnant women, and obese or overweight individuals. Upon a doctor's approval, people with back injuries or health conditions such as diabetes or osteoporosis can also benefit from low-impact aerobics. In addition to making you feel better, the increased flow of blood and nutrients in your body promotes healing and reduces pain. Low-impact aerobics also helps control your weight and glucose levels while strengthening your bones and muscles.

Implementing Low-Impact Aerobics

Always warm-up before starting your exercise routine. Perform five minutes of cardio at a less-intense pace than that of your workout. For instance, if you plan on doing low-impact walking, start by walking without swinging your arms, or if you're taking a low-impact step class, you might start with step touches or just stepping up and down the step bench. Always gradually increase the intensity of your workout. If you want to progress to a more intense workout, slowly incorporate some movements of a higher impact into your routine. For instance, move on to a brisk walk and swing your arms, or alternate between a walk and a jog. Compared to a leisurely walk, a brisk walk and jog are somewhat of a higher impact because the pounding of your feet on the pavement is harder, causing more impact on your joints and bones.

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