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Slow and Steady Wins the Race: 5 Low-Impact Exercises That Are Just as Beneficial as a Sprint

You don’t have to play aggressive team sports or hike mountains to stay fit and healthy, for those of you with mobility issues or a lack of time, these low-impact exercises can be done almost anywhere. The best part? Studies show they’re as good – if not better! – for your health than the high-intensity sports.

Engaging in regular exercise is crucial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and low-impact exercises offer an excellent way to stay active while being gentle on your joints. They are a testament to the fact that movement and fitness can be achieved without subjecting your body to intense stress. Many people might associate exercise with high-impact activities that leave you breathless and sweaty, but low impact exercises offer an equally effective path to health and fitness – so if you’re recovering from an injury or dealing with a chronic illness or other mobility issues, there’s still so much you can do. Here's why low impact doesn't mean low effectiveness: 

Kind to Joints: One of the most significant advantages of low impact exercises is their gentle nature on joints. High impact activities like running or jumping can put considerable strain on joints, leading to potential injuries, especially for those with existing joint issues. Low impact exercises, on the other hand, provide a safer option that protects your joints while still providing an efficient workout.

Sustainable Fitness: Sustainability is key to a successful fitness routine. High impact exercises can sometimes lead to burnout or overtraining due to their intense nature. Low impact exercises allow you to stay consistent over the long term without overwhelming your body. Consistency is the cornerstone of fitness progress and maintaining overall health.

Cardiovascular Health: Low impact doesn't mean low cardiovascular benefits. Activities like walking, cycling, and swimming offer substantial cardiovascular benefits without putting excessive strain on your heart. These exercises improve blood circulation, strengthen your heart muscle, and support overall cardiovascular health.

Muscle Engagement: Low impact exercises engage a variety of muscle groups. They might not be as intense as high impact activities, but they still contribute to muscle endurance, strength, and overall toning. Activities like yoga and resistance training provide a balanced approach to building muscle without the risk of injury.

Customisable Intensity: Low impact exercises are highly customisable. You can adjust the intensity based on your fitness level, making them suitable for people of all ages and abilities. As your strength and stamina improve, you can gradually increase the intensity without compromising your body's well-being.

Weight Management: Low impact exercises play a crucial role in weight management and maintenance. The calorie burn might be slower compared to high impact activities, but the consistency of low impact exercises ensures that you're consistently burning calories, aiding weight loss or management.

Overall Wellbeing: The benefits of exercise extend beyond physical health to mental and emotional wellbeing. Low impact exercises such as yoga, tai chi, and walking are renowned for their stress-reducing and mood-enhancing effects. They offer a holistic approach to fitness by nurturing both the body and the mind.

Whether you're recovering from an injury, easing into an exercise routine, or simply looking for a gentler way to stay active, you don't have to compromise effectiveness for comfort. Here are five low-impact exercises and sports that are just as effective in promoting fitness and overall wellbeing.


Dive into the world of aquatic exercise with swimming – pun absolutely intended! The buoyancy of water supports your body, reducing impact on your joints while providing a full-body workout. Swimming engages muscles from head to toe, improves cardiovascular fitness, and enhances flexibility. It's an excellent option for people of all ages and fitness levels. It’s a cardiovascular exercise that gets your heart pumping and your blood flowing, improving your heart's efficiency by strengthening it as a muscle and enhancing its ability to pump blood. Studies have shown that swimming can help lower resting heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and improve overall cardiovascular fitness – see, you don’t need to climb mountains or deadlift to get those whole-body benefits! But that’s not all – swimming engages a wide range of muscle groups, including the muscles of the arms, legs, back, and core. The resistance of water provides a unique workout that builds muscle endurance and strength. 

Swimming also requires rhythmic breathing, which can enhance lung capacity and respiratory efficiency. The controlled breathing pattern in swimming can improve oxygen uptake and lung function. Research suggests that regular swimming can be beneficial for individuals with asthma and other respiratory conditions. This means that it can further prepare you for higher-impact exercises as it boosts your lung capacity and stamina.


Whether on a stationary bike or cycling through scenic paths, cycling offers a low-impact cardiovascular workout. It's gentle on your joints while building strength in your lower body muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. Cycling also improves balance and coordination, and the smooth motion of pedalling doesn't subject your joints to the same impact as high-impact activities like running. Like any aerobic exercise, cycling prompts the release of endorphins, the "feel-good" hormones that alleviate stress and boost mood. Cycling outdoors also allows you to connect with nature and experience the mental benefits of fresh air and sunlight, and it’s so easy to incorporate into your daily routine. even if you're busy with work and commitments, you could simply use it as a mode of transportation to work and the shops.  


Yoga is a mindful practice that combines gentle movements with controlled breathing. It enhances flexibility, balance, and core strength. Yoga involves a wide variety of poses that gently stretch and lengthen muscles. Scientific studies have shown that regular yoga practice can significantly improve flexibility and enhance joint range of motion. This increased flexibility can contribute to better posture and reduced risk of injuries. Yoga incorporates mindful breathing and relaxation techniques that activate the body's relaxation response, leading to reduced levels of stress hormones, lowered blood pressure, and an overall sense of calm.


Walking is one of the simplest yet most effective low-impact exercises – it may well be one of the most underrated activities! Most of us do it at some point, even if we are sitting down most of the day! It's easy to incorporate into your daily routine, whether on a treadmill, around your neighbourhood, or in a nearby park. Walking improves cardiovascular health, strengthens leg muscles, and supports weight management. Some people even enjoy walking as transport – try walking to your local store instead of driving for a dose of exercise. Weight-bearing activities like walking stimulate bone health and density. Regular walking can help maintain strong bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures – who knew that a bit of walking could stave off brittle bones? Walking requires minimal equipment and can be done virtually anywhere. This low entry barrier encourages individuals to stay active consistently, making walking a sustainable exercise choice. Regular moderate exercise, like walking, can boost the immune system by promoting healthy circulation and reducing inflammation. This may contribute to better overall immune function. While not as intense as some aerobic exercises, certain forms of yoga, such as vinyasa or power yoga, can provide cardiovascular benefits by increasing heart rate and circulation. It has also been found to be effective in managing chronic pain conditions, including back pain, arthritis, and migraines. The combination of gentle movements, stretches, and relaxation techniques can alleviate pain and improve physical functioning.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a graceful form of exercise that involves slow, flowing movements and deep breathing. It's known for its numerous health benefits, including improved balance, flexibility, and stress reduction. Tai Chi promotes mind-body connection and can be particularly beneficial for older adults. Tai Chi's slow and controlled movements enhance proprioception, which is the body's awareness of its position in space. This improvement in balance and coordination can reduce the risk of falls, particularly in older adults. Scientific research has shown that regular Tai Chi practice can significantly improve balance and reduce the incidence of falls. Tai Chi incorporates deep breathing, mindfulness, and fluid movements, creating a meditative experience. This practice induces a relaxation response, reducing stress hormones and promoting a sense of calm. Studies suggest that Tai Chi can improve mood, reduce anxiety, and enhance overall mental wellbeing. Despite its slow pace, Tai Chi engages muscles throughout the body. The controlled movements and transitions provide gentle resistance, leading to improved muscle strength and endurance over time. It’s true what they say – slow and steady wins the race. 

These low-impact exercises offer a range of benefits, from cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength to improved flexibility and mental wellbeing. Incorporating these activities into your routine can help you stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle without putting undue stress on your joints. Always remember to consult a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise regimen, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.

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