Low Impact Exercise

The Benefits of Being Gentle on Your Joints


At CURAVITA, our team of chiropractors, physiotherapists, and massage therapists promote physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise comes in all different forms and it’s not a one size fits all activity. From running and cycling, to weight-lifting and CrossFit, your workouts can vary by duration, movement type, and intensity level. What you do for your workouts can also change depending on your goals, health status, energy levels, and environment.


Physical activity is a great way to prevent and manage musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries. Movement can help manage MSK pain and stiffness. It can also help maintain strength and mobility.


This blog post will discuss the difference between high and low impact exercise as well as the many benefits of low impact movement.


High Impact vs. Low Impact Exercise

High impact exercise consists of both feet leaving the ground, generally at the same time. Examples of high impact exercises are running, skipping, jumping, and plyometrics. There are many advantages to high-impact workouts. Energy expenditure tends to be higher since it’s easier to achieve an elevated heart rate with those types of movement. Other benefits include improved bone density; improved stability, balance, and coordination; improved muscles, heart, and lung strength.


It’s important to note that high impact exercise isn’t for everyone. Some reasons to avoid high impact exercise include pregnancy, MSK injuries, osteoarthritis, being a beginner exerciser, being overweight.


While it’s important to get some impact to support bone growth and strength, it’s not necessary that every workout includes jumping, skipping or hopping around. Low impact exercise is a great alternative or complementary form of movement.


Low impact exercise is a type of exercise in which the amount of stress placed on the joints is minimal. At least one foot is on the ground at all times. Therefore there may still be some impact, but it is reduced. Low impact workouts include walking, dancing, cycling, low impact aerobics, and bodyweight exercises. Low impact doesn’t have to mean low intensity. The great thing with low impact workouts is that they can be light or they can be intense! You can sweat, burn calories and get an awesome workout while keeping your feet on the ground for most of the session.


No impact exercise also exists. This means your feet are not leaving the ground and there is zero impact on your joints. Exercises such as chair yoga or swimming are considered no impact.


The Benefits of Low Impact Exercise

Low impact exercise can be for everyone. Whether you are recovering from an injury or you are looking for different ways to challenge your body, you can benefit from movement that is more comfortable for your joints.


Here are some tips to add some intensity to your low impact workouts and continue to challenge yourself. As always, consult your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise.

  • Add upper body movements – adding upper body movement to your walks, hikes, and steps can increase the overall intensity. Think about pumping your arms or reaching overhead next time you are out for a walk.
  • Mix things up – like any type of movement, our body can adapt to it. Switch up your low impact workouts to keep your body and brain challenged. For example walk on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and do a bodyweight circuit on Tuesday and Thursday.
  • Go faster and steeper – another way to challenge yourself without stressing out your joints with jumping is by increasing your speed or incline. Use intervals to keep it interesting. Move faster for 20 seconds, slower for 10, and repeat. You can do this when you’re out for a walk, on the treadmill, row machine or elliptical. Add a hill into your workout from time to time or change the incline on the cardio machine.


The Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) wants to help you stay active during the day with low impact exercises. Straighten Up Canada is an app created by the CCA specifically designed and dedicated to improving posture and spinal health. The Straighten Up Canada exercises can be practiced almost anywhere and can be used as a warm-up, cool down, or movement break during the day. The app is currently available for download via Apple Store, Google Play and Blackberry World.


Not sure what exercise is right for you and your body? Talk to our healthcare team at CURAVITA Health Group. While working with our chiropractors, physiotherapists and massage therapists you will be guided through an exercise prescription to fit your needs and help you achieve your health goals. Call to book your next appointment at CURAVITA Byward at 613.860.8600 or CURAVITA Glebe at 613.237.9000.