Marc Santa Maria, national group fitness director at Crunch Gym, defines low impact aerobics as "cardio-based exercises that are designed to put no harmful stress on the body." You can spot these moves in a jiffy because they always, always require having at least one foot on the ground. The lack of jumping gives your joints a much-needed time out—especially if you favor HIIT-style workouts.
Apart from adding some ease to your exercise schedule, Santa Maria says low impact aerobics also come with their own slate of benefits. They build up strength and increase stamina over time without compromising your joints. They're also an invaluable addition to your gym tool kit—since they can stand alone or fire up your muscles before a cardio, weight training, or HIIT session.
"The best way to incorporate low impact aerobics into an overall fitness plan is to kick off your workouts with low impact movement," says the trainer. "It’s an easy way warm-up for your body (because it gets your heart rate up) and can build in duration depending on your fitness goals." Ready to give it a whirl?
Try these two low impact workouts on for size—your joints will thank you.
HASFit's 15-minute low impact workout
In this workout Coach Kozak and Claudia—two of Well+Good's most-treasured, spirited trainers—coach a beginner-level sweat sesh. All you need is a light pair of dumbbells, two water bottle, or just yourself. Do each move continuously for one minute and repeat the whole circuit twice.
Lateral juke: Begin in a standing position. Shuffle from left to right while gripping the weights or water bottles.
1 2 3 4: From your standing position, step forward with one foot at a time. Then step back. You're still gripping your weights and water bottles (if you want!).
Wall climber: Start standing. Reach one arm to the sky and bend the opposite leg into your chest. Switch sides and add a small, one-legged jump in between if you so desire.
Reverse lunge: Lunge backward and curl your arms into your chest. Come back to standing and switch sides.
Jumping jacks: Start standing with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Jack you arms up into a V-shape while your legs jump out to an upside down V-shape. Return to center.
Alternating toe touches: With your feet wider than hips-width apart and your arms in a V-shape overhead, touch your left hand to your right foot. Come back up, then touch your right hand to your left foot.
High knee pull down: Start with your arms overhead. As you tuck one knee into your chest, pull both elbows in and crunch. Switch sides.
Jumping wall push-up: Find a wall and assume a vertical plank position. Step back a few inches so you're able to complete the jumping motion. Bend your elbows half way, then push off the wall completely (no hands) and bring your arms to your sides.
Squat wood chop: Stand with your feet slightly wider than hips-width distance. Squat down, and as you do so, swing both arms to the right. Return to standing and bring arms up above your head and to the right. After 30 seconds, switch sides.
Coach Marc Santa Maria's 5-minute low impact workout
Although this low impact aerobics workout is designed to be a short and sweet five minutes, you can repeat the moves multiple times to make the workout longer. Complete each move for one minute.
Step touch: Side step with one foot and bring the other to meet it. Repeat in the opposite direction.
Level it up: Bend your knees so that you're closer to the ground.
Knee ups: Raise one knee to the height of your waste and tap both hands to the raised knee. Repeat on the opposite side.
Level it up: Lengthen your arms fully overhead before tapping the knee of the raised leg.
Reverse lunges: Lunge backward on the left, return to center. Lunge backward on the right, return to center.
Level it up: When you come to stand, pull the knee to the level of your waist and tap it with both hands before switching sides.
Side punches: Punch left fist to right side and rotate the torso to the right. Return to center and switch sides.
Level it up: Increase the intensity of the punch.
Squats with calf raises: With your feet shoulder width apart, bend your knees and lower your butt toward the ground. Stand straight up and rise onto your toes.
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