Should Low Impact Exercise Be For You?

Low impact doesn't mean low intensity and people always manage to make that correlation when faced with the term low impact. This is false.

Do you ever go to one of those social media accounts (or follow one),

..or see videos (or commercials) where they do back flips for their workout(s),

..or you see this cool video film footage of them skipping through ginormous fields of long wheat grasses in slow motion,

..or anything else *that* equally cool,

...or watch video after video of that same person doing ass to ground one-legged squats whilst hugging a 45 pound plate,

..or admiring the way your hero can do a one pinky pull ups, not just once, but several billion times,

..or any other herculean human efforts that we can say,

"Gee that's neat."

I'm exaggerating (well, sort of).

I feel that way about some yoga poses.

Despite having practiced Ashtanga yoga for over 20 years - and taught for about that long, I'm still not all that great at it.

I'm better than most, but when I see my colleagues doing stuff that makes them seem boneless, I can't help but feel inadequate.

But it's not S-U-P-P-O-S-E-D to be about the poses, right? At least that's what I tell myself.

Part of what makes it your own journey is when it's applicable to you and your capabilities.

Although, you should try to reach right outside your comfort zone to improve, it shouldn't be too, too far that it ends up in injuries, but everyday that's up to you.

While I do have appreciation for the hard work and diligence that goes into being able to accomplish such feats that I see, I do have to remember that I'm on my own path and that's really all that matters most.

It's the same for you too.

Besides, what are they supposed to do, stop working at THEIR greatest potential?

Part of the intrigue for me is making attempts and actually seeing progress with what once seemed like an impossibility.

I know what true pain is and I know when I'm being lazy and just want to get it over with. And as you may have guessed, the results are in pushing past your limits.

However, admittedly, I just want to do obtainable workouts without the risk of chipping my teeth (or face planting), folding in on my ankle(s), crapping my pants, or hurling after a workout.

Believe it or not, none of these things are not necessary to constitute an effective workout.

These days I'm concerned for my joints, dignity & motivation.

Don't get me wrong. I've tried many, many, M-A-N-Y over the top and challenging workouts (and this is how I know - I have HEAPS of stories), but the older I get the more stupid and unnecessary it all seems, and I'm writing this blog post to make my case for that.

I'm not saying that you need to give up on your lofty goals on how you want to look. I'm just making a case for the necessity of it 'balls to the walls' kind of workouts.

So, how do you know if you'd make a good candidate for low impact exercise?


Is there much difference between low impact workouts and high impact workouts?

Low impact vs high impact needs to be made distinctive from each other because most people believe that a good workout can’t happen unless it’s high impact, and if you’re doing low impact it’s tied to certain beliefs and I wanted to talk about these things so that they can be given a more clear explanation.

What's the difference between low and high impact exercise?

First let’s define both low impact and high impact exercise.

High impact is exactly as the name describes. It’s where both of the feet can and will come off of the floor, it includes movements such as plyometrics, jumping, running etc.

During a high impact activity, we are more susceptible to injuries because there is more stress on joints and excellent form is paramount since there is such an increased risk for injuries.

Low impact is the polar opposite of high impact;

One foot is on the ground at all times and the chance for injury is significantly decreased. It is easier on the joints and obtainable for the majority of the populations.

Activities that are considered low impact are walking, yoga, stretching..or any activity where one foot is always on the ground at all times. That is the very definition of low impact.

Here is where I want to make a differentiation from past beliefs.

Generally low impact has been associated with specific populations:

  • Someone recovering from injury
  • Those who are out of shape
  • Those who are overweight
  • Maturing adults

All of these things are great reasons to do low impact activities, but there is more to low impact than the current level of fitness, abilities, weight or age.

Low impact doesn’t necessarily mean low intensity. You can certainly get benefits often associated with high impact activities with low impact, without ever having to do any high impact activities.

Low impact can help build strength, stamina and joint stability, so you’re better capable of doing the higher impact exercises if you so choose. Doing low impact activities is always useful.

High impact exercises are never necessary and the benefits for doing low impact far outweighs doing high impact. Anytime you increase the impact, there also comes with it increased risk for injury.

Thinking is limited about low impact because it’s the intensity and demand of the workout that matters. If you increase the intensity, then low impact is supremely effective.

There is more than one way you can increase intensity:

  • Add more weight to the exercise
  • Increase or Decrease the speed of the exercise
  • Decrease the rest between exercises

You can still get a great workout that gets results if you incorporate these ideas into your workouts.

For 14 days of low impact high intensity workouts with minimal time, equipment and space, check out my 14 Days Melt Melt Challenge.