Movement & Fitness • 5 min read

5 Effective and Sustainable Low-Impact Workouts



Hard-core workouts are not for everyone — especially if you have had an injury, are just creating a relationship with movement, or are aging. Unfortunately, the overarching messaging from society is that if you’re not punishing yourself in the gym with hardcore workouts then you’re not getting a “real” workout. Honestly, nothing could be further from the truth. 


I don’t know about you, but I spent most of my life believing this myth: forcing myself to run aimlessly on treadmills, doing endless squats, and lifting weights to the point of injury.  Because the gym felt like torture it was never something that was long lasting. Six months of going hard at the gym, and one day you just stop.  A few more months pass by, and you begrudgingly go back only to be over it again…sound familiar?


Because this cycle had repeated itself most of my adult life, I began to search for a kinder approach to fitness, looking for low impact ways to become stronger both physically and mentally. It was when I began to practice yoga and Pilates that it really clicked. There are so many low impact ways to stay fit and healthy while really enjoying yourself. And, if you are enjoying yourself, these self-care practices will become a part of a lifestyle that can be sustainable even as we age.   


If you are looking for low impact movement to keep you fit, gain strength, and increase your mobility, here are 5 extremely effective low impact workouts that do just that.  Each one gets your heart pumping and uses your own body weight to become physically stronger all while strengthening the mind-body connection. 



Swimming is a fantastic low-impact workout that still provides excellent resistance training, thanks to the intense drag force of water. It builds endurance, muscle strength, and increases cardiovascular fitness. Swimming regularly helps you maintain a healthy weight, healthy heart and lungs, tones muscles and builds strength. This is a great workout for post-menopausal women as nearly all of your muscles are used during swimming, so it definitely changes your body shape. 



Did you know that taking a vigorous 30 minute walk a day can significantly increase your cardiovascular fitness and give you a major mood boost?  It also strengthens your bones, reduces excess body fat, and boosts muscle power and endurance. On top of that, it can also reduce your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers. Walking exercises the quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles and the hip adductors. It also gets your glutes and abdominal muscles in the mix — what’s not to love? 



There is nothing like the feeling of being on a bike outdoors, but whether you are inside or out, cycling is a great way to get a cardio workout without stressing your joints. Since it’s aerobic, your heart, blood vessels and lungs all get a workout. Cycling uses all the major muscle groups as you pedal, and you can make it as low or high intensity as you wish. The best thing about cycling is that you use it as a mode of transportation, therefore fitting your workout easily into your day.  



Pilates is a low impact workout that really focuses on core strength, as well as the low pelvic floor, which is super important — especially as we age. Whether you choose to do mat or reformer, either will help to stabilize your core, improve balance, and increase overall body strength. While most Pilates classes do not have a heavy cardio element (with the exception of jump board) when practiced consistently you will see major results in change of body shape, overall strength and quality of life. 



If you have access to a rowing machine, then you are in for a total body workout that offers serious cardio and endurance training. Rowing is a great way to work on improving your posture while strengthening your arms, legs, core and upper back. So, you may want to hit the gym for this one or, if you live by a lake, this is a great outdoor workout and a great way to spend some time with a friend or partner. 


What's your favorite low-impact workouts? Let me know in the comments!