How Effective is Low Impact Exercise

Article | July 2018

How Effective Is Low-Impact Exercise?

Low-impact exercise is a safe and healthy way to get in better shape, whether you’re young, old, or in-between

What is low-impact exercise?

Low-impact exercise gets your heart rate up slowly and causes less pressure on your joints than high-impact exercise. Popular forms of low-impact exercise include walking, yoga, Pilates, swimming, skating, cross-country skiing, and golf. The movements associated with low-impact exercises like these are slower and gentler than those of high-impact exercises like running or weight-lifting.

Check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program, especially if you have health concerns.

What are the benefits of low-impact exercise?

Low-impact exercise can help you achieve your exercise goals without aggravating an existing injury or causing a new one.

Low-impact exercise also helps maintain and build muscle mass that decreases steadily with age. When you have more muscle tissue, your body can continue burning calories even while you’re resting.

How can I incorporate low-impact exercise into my life?

You can easily incorporate low-impact exercise into your daily routine, regardless of your age and ability. For example, low-impact exercise for seniors can be as effective as it is for younger people.

Go for brisk walks. Ride a bike. Dance. Work around the house. Garden. Climb stairs. Swim. Rake leaves. Try different kinds of activities that keep you moving. Look for new ways to build physical activity into your daily routine. (Always check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.)

There are many low-impact exercises you can do at home, at your desk while at work, or even when travelling. Here are some ideas:

  • Start your day with 15 minutes of stretching
  • If you take public transportation to work or shopping, try getting off at an earlier stop and walking the rest of the way
  • Walk or bike, rather than drive, to the grocery store, work, or local errands
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Extend your errands into a mild exercise routine by adding steps to your shopping trips
  • Find an exercise buddy who can join you on lunch-hour walks or for a yoga or dance class before or after work. Exercising with someone else can help keep you on track
  • Use moments of free time to move around, stretch, walk, do yoga, whatever gets your blood moving

There are many types of low impact exercises you can consider, here are just a few1:


Position yourself facing a stair, whether at work or at home. Place one foot on the stair and step up, straightening your leg. Allow your opposite foot to hover above the ground for about 5 seconds. Repeat, this time positioning your opposite foot on the stair and allowing the other foot to hover above ground. Repeat. If needed, hold onto a railing for balance.

Single leg stand

Stand beside your desk or counter so that your feet are parallel with its longest edge. Keeping your feet facing in the same direction, extend one leg out and upward. Engage your core muscles. Hold for about 30 seconds, then bring your legs back together. Repeat with the opposite leg.

Seated hamstring stretch

Sit on a chair with both feet on the ground. Bending from the knee, move one of your feet upward in a gentle kicking motion until that leg is parallel with the floor. Hold for about 30 seconds, then bring your foot back to the ground. Repeat several times with each leg.


Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your back straight and reach your arms forward so they’re parallel with the floor. Lower your buttocks to the height of your knees, as though you were about to sit in a chair, making sure when you bend your knees that they are behind your toes when you look down.Hold. Then, raise yourself back to a standing position. Repeat.

Low-impact exercise is a safe and effective way to build and tone muscle. Low-impact exercise for seniors is just as beneficial for younger people and can be part of a whole exercise regimen or worked into your daily life. Walking, taking the stairs, or getting up from your desk occasionally to get your body moving, can produce positive results without a lot of effort.



This information is for educational purposes only. It is not medical advice. Always consult your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations.