4 Low-Impact Exercises That Get Results

By Julia Sullivan |

These joint-friendly moves burn calories and build strength without stressing your hips or knees.

low impact exercises

HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, has a lot going for it-namely, results. With just one short but challenging workout, you'll blast calories and strengthen your muscles.

But it’s not for everyone, especially people with cranky joints or who might crave a gentler workout.

That’s where high-intensity, low-impact training (HILIT) comes in. It’s HIIT minus the skips, hops, and jumps. You’ll still burn calories and build strength with total-body moves—but your hips and knees will be much happier.

If you're lucky, you'll find a HILIT class near you. But if you don't, you can still do HILIT exercises with just your bodyweight for resistance, says Monique Crous, C.P.T., a certified personal trainer and creator of Hot HIIT.

Here are four low-impact exercises to consider adding to your routine.

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How to Use These Low-Impact Exercises

You’ll want clear space, a mat, and a step bench or low, sturdy exercise box.

Puede elegir uno o dos ejercicios para agregarlos a su entrenamiento normal, o puede hacer los cuatro juntos como una rutina. Después del calentamiento, realice cada uno de los ejercicios como se indica, concentrándose en hacerlos de manera correcta. Si los hace como una rutina, realice dos o tres series en total.

If you can, Crous recommends trying the exercises in the presence of a certified personal trainer or instructor before trying them on your own.

Como siempre, la clave es la seguridad. Los ejercicios aquí podrían ser distintos o más avanzados que los de que aplicará en una clase SilverSneakers. If you have a chronic condition (including osteoporosis, arthritis, or diabetes); an injury; or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

Low-Impact Exercise #1: Modified Seal Jack

The classic jumping jack is a great way to improve circulation throughout your whole body. And when done safely, it's also a terrific weight-bearing exercise that builds bone strength and lower-body stability.

But if you’ve shunned jumping jacks to protect your knees, you’re not alone.

Your HILIT secret: Instead of jumping your feet in and out at the same time, step them in and out one at a time. You’ll reduce the impact on your bones and joints—and make the move easier and safer.

Haga de 4 a 5 repeticiones

How to do it: Stand with your feet together and arms straight out in front of you, palms touching.

With control, step one foot out to the side, and open your arms wide.

Still with control, step your foot back to center and close your arms to return to the starting position. Repita del lado opuesto. That's one rep. Do four to five reps.

Want more options? Check out more jumping jack alternatives that are easier on your knees.

Low-Impact Exercise #2: Skater Step

The skater hop is a fun exercise that gets your heart rate up and works your balance. With an advanced version, you take big hops from side to side and swing your arms in rhythm—resembling a professional skater on the ice. But you can also take smaller hops like in this skater hop with tap.

Your HILIT secret: If even the smallest hop is too hard on your joints, simply step instead of hop.

Haga de 4 a 5 repeticiones

How to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart.

With control, step one foot behind you at a slight angle, landing on the ball of your foot with your hips and knees bent slightly. You can step back as little or as much as comfortable for you. Let your arms swing gently and naturally.

Still with control, return your foot to the starting position. Repita del lado opuesto. That's one rep. Do four to five reps.

Looking for a low-impact fitness class? Try SilverSneakers Circuit! It’s offered both in-person at participating fitness locations and online with SilverSneakers LIVE.

Low-Impact Exercise #3: Modified Burpee

If you’ve ever watched The Biggest Loser or any other fitness show on television, you might have seen participants perform burpees. What it looks like: From a standing position, you squat down to the floor, thrust your feet out into high plank, jump back to the squat position, and jump up in the air.

It’s a terrific total-body move, but simply thinking about all the jumping can make you wince.

Your HILIT secret: Make the move easier by reducing the impact—and the range of motion. Instead of jumping, step throughout the movement. Instead of lowering all the way down to the floor, use a step bench.

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Haga de 4 a 5 repeticiones

How to do it: Stand in front of a step bench or low, sturdy exercise box with your feet about hip-width apart. Bring your hands down to the bench.

With control, step one foot back then the other until you are in high plank with your body in a straight line from head to ankles.

Still with control, step one foot in then the other, and stand up to return to the starting position. That's one rep. Do four to five reps.

Low-Impact Exercise #4: Modified Mountain Climber

The traditional mountain climber is another power move. In a high plank position, you draw one knee toward your chest and then switch legs. Done at a fast pace, it almost looks like you're running-or climbing-against the floor. Whew!

Your HILIT secret: Again, step instead of jump throughout the movement. You can also adjust how much you bend your knee.

Haga de 4 a 5 repeticiones

Cómo hacerlo: Póngase en cuatro patas con las rodillas debajo de las caderas y las manos a la altura de los hombros. Asegúrese de que las palmas de las manos tengan un buen contacto con el piso, y contraiga el abdomen.

Estire las piernas hacia atrás, apoyándose en la parte anterior de los pies de forma que su cuerpo quede en línea recta de la cabeza a los tobillos.

With control, bend one knee in toward your chest, bending it only as much as comfortable for you.

Still with control, straighten your knee to return to the starting position. Repita del lado opuesto. That's one rep. Do four to five reps.

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