Fit Tip: High-Impact vs. Low-Impact
Heavy weights versus light weights. To stretch, or not to stretch. Group fitness versus sweating solo. These fitness “debates” are all about personal preference. But when it comes to high-impact versus low-impact exercise, there might actually be a correct answer.
Yes, one form of cardio may fit your needs and your body better. So, are you geared toward high-impact or low-impact?
What: With low-impact movements, at least one or both feet touch the ground at all times. This puts less force and stress on your body. But don’t confuse low-impact with the slower pace of low-intensity workouts! Have you ever been to an hour-long spin class? You’ll be wishing it was low-intensity by the time you’re done.
Who: People who are older, injured, have bad joints, or are pregnant benefit from low-impact activity. If you’re a fitness newbie, starting with low-impact cardio is a great way to dip your toes into exercise.
What: With high-impact movements, both feet may be off the ground at the same time. Examples are jumping, running, or switch kicks in a kickboxing class. Certain high-impact activities burn more calories than low-impact activities, but high-impact has a greater chance of injury.
Who: If you have a strong fitness baseline, at low risk for joint problems, and not nursing an injury, give high-impact a try.
How: Running outdoors or on the treadmill, plyometrics, jumping rope, or dance-based classes with leaps and jumps.
At certain times, a combo of high-impact and low-impact workouts might be best for your body. For example, if you’re recovering from an injury, low-impact is the way to go. Or, maybe you’ve noticed that you can do two long runs a week, but the third makes your knees hurt. Instead of pushing your body past its limits, move indoors onto a FlexStrider or an elliptical cross-trainer. Or, maybe you’re relatively new to fitness but want to mix up your routine once a week for a new challenge. Sign up for a high-impact class like a cardio boot camp.