Regular exercise is essential if you want to maintain good health. At the same time, it’s important that you don’t hurt yourself as your trying to get fit. Some kinds of exercise—like running, or jumping as in aerobics—can be difficult if you have joint problems, or have been recently injured, as these exercises require your body to absorb the impact of the forceful, pounding movement. Fortunately, though, there are a lot of exercises that are ‘non-impact’, and are just as good for you. Here’s a list of 9 of some of the best non-impact exercises that can will help you get fit without jarring your body. You are always advised to check with your doctor or medical provider before you start any exercise regime, of course.
It is hard to describe exactly what yoga is, as there are as many as 100 different types. Still, the basics are more or less the same; yoga involves the principle of integrating mind and body through breathing, exercising, and focusing or meditating. Breathing is regarded as the essence of all life, so yoga requires you to concentrate on how you breathe. This improves your overall circulation and health. The exercises, or body postures, asanas, are aimed at improving the various functions of your body. For example, certain exercises improve back strength, whereas others may target nerves in the arms, legs or neck. Yoga can be strenuous, and you’ll have to be sure you are doing the poses correctly. Fortunately, there are many beginner’s classes available at most fitness centers. Most instructors say yoga is not suitable for pregnant women, and children under the age of 16 should also be discouraged from doing any poses.
This kind of non-impact exercise can be done in a fitness center, special studio, at home, with a group of people, alone or with a trainer. Pilates is somewhat similar to yoga, in that you are required to adopt different poses, while focusing your mind and using breathing techniques. But, Pilates can give you a more intense workout, concentrating on core muscles which are located around your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen. Because it focuses on the core, Pilates is particularly good for people who have arthritis, or chronic lower back pain. The different poses force you to use your own body as a counterweight, and some of the positions are moderately difficult. You won’t be getting an overall workout, and Pilates does not improve your cardiovascular fitness level. You also won’t build more muscle mass. You will, however, show great improvement in your muscle strength, and your overall flexibility and balance will improve.
This non-impact exercise is one of the best you can chose when you want to improve your posture, flexibility, strength and psychological well-being. Tai Chi Chuan, or Tai Chi as it is now known, has its roots in ancient China, where it was first developed as a fighting technique, or martial art. Now, it is characterized by slow, methodical, flowing movements; breathing and concentration are used in conjunction to improve balance and mindfulness. Tai Chi has been heralded as an effective way of treating all sorts of problems, like osteoarthritis, Parkinson’s Disease and heart disease. Research suggests Tai Chi may also be effective as a supplemental therapy for stress and anxiety. Although there are many indoor classes, you can do Tai Chi anywhere, and some instructors offer outdoor sessions. Anyone can do Tai Chi, although you should consult with your health provider if you have suffered fractures, serious back or joint problems.
If you have ever tried to walk fast in a swimming pool, you know that the water makes it rather difficult for you to move easily. It is this resistance that makes swimming, or water aerobics, such a great non-impact exercise. While it offers some opposition to your movement, the water actually supports you, so your body is spared having to take any unnecessary jarring. Swimming is ideal for any level of fitness, so even if you are a beginner you can paddle your way around the pool and know that you are getting some good cardiovascular exercise. You can target selected sections of your body with a paddle board, or you can go for a complete body work out and do some free style swimming. If going up and down a lane doesn’t appeal to you, you can try any of the numerous water aquatic classes that are offered at fitness centers.
Here is another great exercise that tones your upper and lower body without putting any stress on your bones or joints. Most every gym or fitness center will have a rowing machine; most can be set at different levels of difficulty, or resistance. Higher levels of resistance improve strength, and the faster you row, the more calories you will burn. Regardless of how fast you go, though, you will get your heart rate going and increase your overall body strength. It is important to do stretching exercises before you start rowing, so as to avoid any strains, and it is always a good idea to get some training before you start so that you know how to row properly. It is also advisable to take care if you have had any previous shoulder or back problems. Outdoor rowing is also very popular, and is a great way to get exercise with other people.
This is one of the best ways to keep fit for people who want non-impact exercise. Cycling can be done outdoors or indoors. You can cycle around your neighborhood or take a jaunt in your local park; or you can go to the mountains and climb over granite rocks. If the great outdoors doesn’t appeal to you, you can go to any gym or fitness center and sign up for a ‘spinning’ class. These are very popular, and have the benefit of an instructor who guides you through different speed stages, all to the sound of music. Cycling is suitable for people of all ages, and this makes it ideal for the family. You can include everyone from grandparents to children, and there are countless regional and national parks that provide excellent paths for you to enjoy. Most places will have cycle rentals, so you don’t even need to bring your own bike.
7) Strength training
This is one of the most popular forms of non-impact exercise, in part because it can be done wherever, however, and whenever you want. You can strength train in a gym, or you can stay in your own home. You can use free weights, barbells, medicine balls, resistance bands or weight machines, and you can decide the particular muscle groups on which you want to focus, targeting arms, shoulders, chest, legs, waist, back or buttocks. You are likely to want to start out with lighter weights and a minimum number of repetitions until you build some stamina. As your fitness increases, you can use heavier weights and do more repetitions. You can combine different exercises to form a circuit, as well, which gives you a tremendous overall workout, and improves your cardiovascular system. It’s important to make sure you don’t strain yourself, though, so it’s best to get some tips first from a trainer.
8) Cross country skiing
This is a popular activity anywhere there is snow and countryside, and it is easy to understand why. Cross country skiing is a great way to experience the winter landscape, and get one of the best workouts you will ever have, at the same time. As a non-impact exercise, most experts agree you will be hard pressed to find anything that strengthens you as much as cross country skiing, in fact. It is renowned for being a powerhouse for cardiovascular training, and is regarded as one of the best ways of improving your overall fitness level. Because you have to glide across the snow, cross country skis are designed so that your heel remains free from the ski. This allows you to push yourself forward with the aid of your poles. Cross country skiing requires a certain level of fitness, though, so don’t try it unless you are already somewhat active.
9) Elliptical training
You will see rows of these machines if you go to a fitness center, as elliptical machines have become extremely popular. Elliptical training involves you pushing your legs back and forth, as in a swinging motion, on two large pedals. Nearly all machines also have handgrips, which allow you to move your arms in a coordinated manner with your legs. The result is that you get a great workout, and you don’t have to worry about hurting your muscles, joints, or bones. You can choose a higher or lower resistance level, depending on how difficult you want to make the training. Most machines also offer different types of training programs. For example, there’s interval training, where your speed changes from fast to slow for specified periods of time; mountain training, where the incline changes; and numerous other programs from which to choose to alleviate boredom. Some machines even provide you with entertaining music or videos as you exercise.