Low Impact Cardio for All Fitness Levels

low impact cardioDeciding to get in shape is a huge commitment both mentally and physically.  You have to change many behaviors that contributed to you being out of shape and unhealthy in the first place.  Everything from the amount and quality of the food that you are accustomed to eating to the lack of exercise or mobility that has become your norm.  The best way to get started is to commit to a low impact cardio and weight regimen to ease your body and mind into this new way of life that will ideally be a complete new lifestyle for good.

Everything from pilates to The Total Hot Body Fitness Workout to dance can get you where you want to go with achieving your fitness goals.

Low Impact Exercises to Get You Going 

The following low impact cardio exercises are great for the beginning enthusiast who isn’t very active. The entire purpose of beginning with low impact cardio is to alleviate pressure on the joints and wake up the body in a sense.  Some things aren’t quite working the way they should have been and/or some muscles haven’t been used in quite a while.  If you do too much too fast, the possibility of injuring yourself increases because of stiff joints and muscles.

YogaSome people might not consider yoga to be their first choice when getting back in shape but it is a major cardiovascular exercise with the benefits of stretching out under-used and overly tight muscles, ligaments and joints.

Udemy’s course on yoga provides a very thorough and easy-to-follow instruction on how to perform the most popular and essential yoga poses.  Taken from the course description:

“Yoga is more than just an excellent form of exercise: it is also a spiritual and mental practice that can improve your mental outlook. Anatomy of Fitness: Yoga shows you how to build your strength and flexibility while improving your concentration and willpower.

Featuring a complete yoga program and 64 page manual, this user friendly course includes:

  • A well balanced, flowing sequence of step-by-step poses
  • Comprehensive anatomical illustrations of the muscles used in each pose
  • Clear guidance on the correct form and what to avoid to ensure you’re working effectively and safely
  • Anatomical information and labels to complement the detailed drawings of the body’s muscle system
  • A bonus diary of practice with each pose to record and review your progress

The course also include a range of yoga sequences including Salutation to the Sun, meaning anyone can tailor a program to suit their fitness needs.”

Walking Punches:   In its easiest form this is a very slow and light walking while alternating left and right punches.  As this becomes easier, you can walk faster, incorporate a light jog to increase your coordination, or even march while bringing the knees as high as you can.  This will get your heart rate going just make sure you don’t lose your posture in the process.  Keep your head, neck, shoulders and pelvis aligned and take good inhalations and exhalations.  Later on you can also add small dumbbells to your punches but be careful with that.  Only perform weighted punches if your posture is in check.

Windmill Steps: The beginning level of this exercise is just a simple side step, letting your trailing leg come behind you with a slight tap, as well as adding the large circular arm swing. As you want this to be harder you can drop your hips lower to the ground, adding a squatting position. Increase the step width and speed until you substitute the motion with a lateral jump rather than a step.

PilatesUdemy offers great instruction in Pilates! This course “offers both the new pilates professional and the pilates student insight into the exercises, why they were created, when the fitness form was invented and how to workout better and smarter so you can be longer stronger and achieve greater success with your fitness goals” (course description).

Static Squat + Punches: Starting with a very shallow squat and a punching motion without any extra weight, only hold your squat for a few seconds before coming up continuing your punches. As you progress stay down longer (until the maximum time), squat lower, and start using dumbbells with your punching motion. Do not, however, speed up your punches, especially if using extra weight. Again, posture is important because you have a lot of body parts moving and aching plus you have your heart  pumping all over the place.

Static Lunge + Curls: Start with a shallow lunge with your feet relatively close together and either very light dumbbells or possibly only arm weight for your bicep curls. As you progress, lunge deeper and with your feet further apart and increase the amount of weight you use with your curl. Do not increase the speed of your curl. As you go down in the lunge, your biceps curl with your elbows tucked close to your body. Then the curl opens back up as you come to standing position.

Static Lunge + Tricep Extension: With this lunge position only the front leg is bent and the rear leg is extended straight. Start with a shallow lunge and little to no weight in your hands. When you want more of a challenge, increase the depth of the lunge and the distance between your feet as well as the amount of weight you are using for your tricep extension. Do not increase the speed of your tricep extensions.

 Fingertip to Toe Jacks: Start with a slow leg lift reaching to your toes each time then increase the height of the leg lift as well as the speed of the leg until you are actually hopping back and forth from leg to leg with only one foot on the ground at a time and moments when both feet are off the ground. At this pace you will need to alternate one hand going up while the other is coming down.

Stutter Step: The easiest version of this exercise is still hard but start with all of your weight in one leg with only a slight bend (or even keep it straight), placing the opposite leg back only a few inches behind you and driving the knee up in front of you slowly as you bring your hands down. Increase the depth of your squat on the supporting leg while extending the moving leg further and further behind you. At the same time, start increasing the speed of which you move your arms and leg.

Try out these basic floor exercises that you can do anywhere for your low impact cardio!

Just Get Started!

Whether you are a newbie to the exercise world, a seasoned professional who’s taken a long hiatus, an injured athlete coming back to exercise life slowly, or perhaps an elderly person looking to modify certain exercises to accommodate certain areas of the body that need more care, the variety of  low impact cardio exercises are endless.

A key marker with any fitness regimen is to just get started.  Working out too hard too fast is not the way to go for most folks and better to slowly work your way up than go hard, get injured, and then have to spend weeks recuperating with limited mobility.   Udemy offers a large variety of fitness and health course with an abundance of information to get you going and keep you there!