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Low-Impact Exercise With High-Impact Results

By Kate Gardner

This year alone, 600,000 Americans will have knee replacement surgery, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. For many of them, this means they will need to change the way they exercise for the rest of their lives. And it's not just our knees that are holding us back. Many other health issues can put limits on what sorts of exercises a person can do. High-impact exercises like running and CrossFit can place an extreme amount of pressure on your body whether it's your joints, muscles, or soft tissues that end up taking the brunt of it. Many people in this boat may feel they can't exercise at all, but that's not true! Low-impact exercises can save the day. 

Low-Impact Exercise

What does low-impact mean? The American Sports and Fitness Association defines low-impact as exercises that go easy on the joints. These exercises don't require any jumping, running, or other jarring, abrupt movements. Low-impact exercises are good for people who have chronic health issues that prohibit them from higher impact exercises, those recovering from injury, or those who are looking to give their bodies a break. 


Cardio is good for our hearts. It's important that we get our heart rate up for at least 150 minutes each week. If you're faced with giving up the runs you used to love, just know that there are lots of great alternatives to explore. 

  • Swimming - Swimming is the ultimate low-impact exercise; water helps bear our weight while at the same time providing an incredible amount of resistance

  • Cycling - If your knees can take it, cycling (whether road or stationary) can be good since it's a fluid movement 

  • Elliptical - Elliptical machines put less strain on your body than running on the treadmill 


Strength-training exercises are typically low-impact (since you're not jumping around). However, for some health issues, like hernias and lower back pain, specific low-impact strength training moves are better than others. In these cases, you will need to find exercises that allow you to build muscle without making your condition worse. Pilates and yoga can help you safely and gently build strength. A good trainer or physical therapist can also help you learn how to strength train with proper form, which should reduce the risk of injury. 

When considering which low-impact exercises you include in your fitness routine, it's important to have a good understanding of your particular needs. Different problems require different sorts of low-impact exercises. Talk with your chiropractor, physical therapist, or doctor about which exercises are safe for you and which are off the table. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Monrovia, Calif. 

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