Low-impact fitness: How to burn calories without brutalizing your joints


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Our bodies were built to move. Truly and honestly, to keep up a healthy well-being, human beings need to exercise regularly. Everyone knows this, but even so, it's estimated that the average American spends 56 hours "planted like a geranium,” as one NBC News article put it. 

It's not OK, but it is understandable. With all the desk jobs today, it's easy to fall into the sitting routine. Once that happens, it's easy to make excuses about why you can't be more active. 

The truth of the matter is, cardio exercise can be really hard on your joints — especially for overweight and obese individuals, those older than 60 and those who have sustained joint injuries. But that's no reason to avoid exercising. There are plenty of low-impact fitness options from which you can choose that won't brutalize your joints. Here are a few of them.


Walking in Memphis

OK, you don't have to be in Memphis, though Graceland is a sight to see. Walking is a great way to increase blood flow and elevate mood. Walking can lose its luster before too long, though, so look for ways to change your routine and keep it fresh. 

Mix it up by changing your route every few days, heading to a state park or local walking trail a few times a week, and inviting different friends to come along with you. Walking with friends offers a wonderful opportunity to reconnect and enjoy each other's company, while doing something that benefits you both physically.


Row your boat

Rowing is a very efficient workout that blasts calories fast. You'll benefit from a lower-body workout without even realizing it because you'll focus most of your energy on rowing. Thus, your upper body will gain strength as well — specifically in your arms, back and shoulders.

Completely landlocked? Can't swim? Don't have a boat? Indoor rowing machines achieve the same results, without the hassle of getting to a body of water. Give it a try and see how your joints feel about it.


Just keep swimming, just keep swimming

As you might guess, swimming is the ultimate low-impact workout. Water supports your body's weight, leaving your joints free to move without the pressure they would withstand outside the water. In addition to the low-impact aspect, swimming is the most effective form of exercise when it comes to muscle tone combined with cardiovascular health.

In order to achieve the best results, you'll need to understand that form is the most important aspect of swimming. Therefore, you might find that taking a class at your local facility will help greatly. Once you're up to speed, it's best to swim three times each week for 20 to 30 minutes, alternating slower and faster laps.



Not only does riding a bike regularly have lots of health benefits; it also serves as an environmentally friendly way to get around. It's a gentle, low-impact workout that puts less stress on the spine than other forms of exercise. Riding a bike, whether it's a stationary one indoors or a traditional one around town, will allow you to engage in exercise without straining your joints.

As with many forms of exercise, there are safety concerns to keep in mind when it comes to biking. This car-on-bike crash infographic illustrates the dangers cars pose to bikers. It points out that, statistically speaking, the most dangerous time to bike in public is in the early evening — between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. So keep that, and the rest of the stats in the illustration, in mind while you're out there.


Dangers aside, each of these exercises is an excellent way to get your needed exercise in each day, without pulverizing your joints and causing unnecessary pain. What's your favorite low-impact exercise, and how do you keep things interesting? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.