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High Impact vs. Low Impact Workouts


You’re sneakers are on. You’ve got your super cute new workout set. Hair in a ponytail. It’s go time! You scope out Pinterest for a random workout, and you find there is all this lingo and WHAT DOES IT ALL EVEN MEAN?!

I feel you! I remember walking in the gym, doing 5 minutes on the elliptical for “cardio”, and then wandering aimlessly around the dumbbells before getting freaked out my the Joe Schmo Muscle Man over there throwing 150lbs around, and all but running away.

It’s always challenging entering a new world where it feels like everyone except you speaks this secret language, and you don’t even know which questions to ask.

Don’t worry, girl. I’ve got your back. Let’s break down some of these fitness terms. Today we’re talking about impact – high-impact workouts vs low-impact workouts. Let’s break it down..

When researching your fitness routine, you may have heard a little about “low-impact” and “high-impact” exercise. Initially, it can seem tempting to opt for “high-impact” - after all, go hard or go home right?

However, the reality behind high and low impact exercises is somewhat more complicated - and you actually need a mixture of both if you are looking to achieve a health-boosting fitness routine. We’ll dig more into this, but first, let’s determine what the difference between these forms of exercise actually is.

What is low-impact exercise?

Examples of low-impact exercise: cycling, yoga, and swimming.

Low-impact exercise is physical activity that is relatively comfortable. Not “Netflix & Chill” comfortable, but these exercises aren’t particularly straining on your limbs and joints. That’s not to say that low-impact exercise is easy, or that it isn’t beneficial for health. For example, when it comes to riding a bike, while there’s plenty of strength and cardio health benefits (however, you still have to be cautious to avoid a biking accident while out and about on the roads-- trust me. I’ve been there. It’s terrifying.) Swimming is a great cardiovascular exercise.

Remember: The “low-impact” element only applies to the impact on your joints rather than being a reflection of the difficulty of the exercise.

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What is high-impact exercise?

Examples of high-impact exercise: running, jumping, burpees, and weight-bearing exercise.

A high-impact workout is any move that includes both feet off the ground at the same time. It’s often tougher for your body (particularly, the joints) to absorb. This kind of activity puts a strain on your limbs, tendons, joints, ligaments, and muscles, and you may find that you’re more prone to injury if partaking in these forms of physical activity.

What you need to know

It may be tempting to assume that low-impact is by far the best choice. However, this isn’t actually the case. Variety is, after all, the spice of life (and health!), and a well-rounded fitness routine will incorporate elements of both high and low impact exercise.

The reason for this is simple: your bones. For optimal bone health, you need to undertake regular weight-bearing and high impact activity. Low-impact exercises don’t ‘stress’ your bones enough to develop bone strength; essentially, human bones need to be used to remain healthy. This issue is particularly important the older you are, as bone density decreases naturally with age; that’s an issue that high-impact activity can help to offset.

Many people find that a mixture of low- and high-impact exercise is the best choice. The low-impact exercise is beneficial for health and fitness, but gives your joints a chance to rest. This regimen can then be supplemented by occasional high-impact activity to encourage optimal health.

CLICK TO READ: my feature in Health Magazine

In conclusion

Variety is key when it comes to your health (how you move, what you eat, etc.). A good fitness regimen is one that examines all areas of health and well-being, so incorporating both low- and high-impact workouts into your plan is important.

Now I want to know: What are some of your favorite high- or low-impact workouts? Let me know below by leaving a comment, or connect with me on my latest post @annalaurasommer on Instagram! I love engaging in the comments, and would absolutely love to connect with you there xx

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