6 Extremely Effective Low Impact Exercises

Pounding the pavement while running for miles at a time is not the only way to get fit. It’s great that a lot of people enjoy it and take it up as a hobby, but it’s not for everybody. In some situations it’s probably even not advisable. Running can cause a tremendous amount of impact on your knees, ankles, and back joints. Especially if you don’t have proper technique. I have great news, because there are 6 extremely effective low impact exercises that you can do instead of running and jumping around.

1 – Yoga

First I want to say that not all yoga classes are created equal. It’s very possible to find yourself in a beginner yoga class that will have you “patty-caking” around the entire time.

That’s not exactly what you want if you’re trying to burn some major calories. If you’re going at a vigorous rate, a 180 pound person could burn over 600 calories in an hour.

Yoga also has some other great benefits like core strengthening and flexibility. If you’re having issues with joint pain, back pain, or overall muscular weakness….this is probably something that you want to look into.


2 – Swimming

Many commercial gyms, high schools, and colleges have swimming pools that are available to use for swimming laps.

There are multiple swimming styles that all involve total body movement to propel yourself through the water, with literally no impact on any joints.

A 180 pound person swimming fast can burn over 800 calories in one hour. Even going at a slower pace will cost you right under 600 calories.


3 – Kettle Bell Swings

These swings involve the kettle bell starting in between your legs with your knees slightly bent. As you thrust your hips forward, your hands should swing the weight up in front of you.

In a Russian kettle bell swing the weight only comes up to your eye level. An American kettle bell swing requires the weight the go directly over your head.

This is a total body movement because it involves a leg drive, core strength, and shoulder stability. Doing 15 second intervals of kettle bell swings for 20 minutes could steal almost 300 calories from you. That’s similar to running a 6 minute mile!

Kettlebell Swings

4 – Fan Bike

The fan bike might be a little tougher to find in a gym than a traditional stationary bike, or a spin bike.

Those are also great options for low impact exercise. But the reason I chose this equipment is because it has handles for arm movement as well.

My favorite thing to do on this type of bike is interval sprints. For example, you can go as hard as you can for 30 seconds, and then rest for the rest of the minute. If it’s not tough enough, go for 40 seconds, and decrease the rest to 20 seconds.

Try doing that for 20 minutes and let me know what you think!

Fan Bike

5 – Rowing Machine

The rower is a popular commodity in most gyms and Crossfit workouts are known for their use of rowing in the cardio portions.

It’s a total body movement because you use your legs to push off of a platform as you simultaneously pull with your hands…..just as if you were rowing a boat gently down the stream.

For a 180 pound person, rowing for 60 minutes can burn somewhere between 550 to 720 calories.

Unless you really like to row, I don’t foresee anyone doing this exercise for a whole hour, but that just gives you an idea.

This is another great exercise to do sprints on. For example you can do a workout with kettle bell swings and row 1000 meters in between each set. There’s an easy low impact workout right there!

Rowing Machine

6 – Thrusters

This exercise is basically a front squat and jerk combined into one fluid motion. Typically it’s done with a barbell.

You simply squat all the way down, and use the momentum from your legs to push the bar the rest of the way over your head.

As far as weights go, you probably won’t find an exercise that gets more muscles involved than this.


If your having some joint trouble, but you still want to get a killer workout done, I definitely recommend these 6 extremely effective low impact exercises. If you found this article helpful please take a quick second to share it on facebook with your buddies. You’ll probably also like to find out if it’s better to use machines or free weights?

Adam Pegg About Adam Pegg

Adam is an athlete with a serious passion for fitness and health. He played basketball at University of Delaware and Stetson. His degree is in health science and he's a certified personal trainer who loves helping people reach their goals.