Running and boot camp classes work up a sweat, but they can be hard on your body. If you’re recovering from an injury or have joint issues such as minor arthritis, you may need to swap your regular fitness routine for low-impact workouts (just remember to consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen). These exercises don’t put too much extra stress on your joints, but they still strengthen your muscles and heart.
They’re also a smart move after having a baby (if you’re a new mom, check with your doctor before you start exercising). Getting back in the swing of things may be a challenge at first, but stick with it. One study of 63 new mothers found that their strength and fitness improved at around six months after giving birth.
Ready to get started, but not exactly the yoga type? There are plenty of low-impact workouts that don’t require saying, “Om.” Try one of the following six options.
Water takes pressure off your joints but acts as natural resistance. That means your muscles have to work with each stroke or kick, which builds strength. Plus, for a 155-pound person, an hour of swimming burns nearly 450 calories.
Whether it’s going for a ride outside or taking a cycling class, hopping on a bike can boost your health. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, people who commuted by bike had a lower risk of heart disease and cancer than those who didn’t.
You can still hit the weight room—if you know what moves to do. Stick with seated exercises, such as seated dumbbell curls and rows, for a low-impact workout. Skip standing moves like squats, which put pressure on your joints.
Time to give that indoor rowing machine a try. Not only can rowing burn as much as 630 calories per hour for a 155-pound person, but it also works your entire body. You’ll also get a heart-pumping workout that’s gentle on your joints. Proper form is important, so ask a trainer or someone on the gym staff to show you how to use the machine correctly.
Regular aerobics usually involve high-impact jumping. Taking that class to the water gives you the cardio you’re looking for, but reduces the stress on the joints.
It’s one of the most convenient workouts around: All you need is a pair of sneakers (and it’s even easy to do if you have a baby in tow!). But it also gets results. According to one study that followed the health and lifestyle habits of nearly 122,000 women, those who briskly walked three hours a week reduced their risk of heart disease by 30 to 40 percent.