For an exercise to be low-impact, one foot must always be in contact with the ground or your weight must be supported by water or by a machine. So you've got plenty of options when it comes to choosing a low-impact workout—and that doesn't mean it has to be easy (unless you want it to be). The things you want to avoid are high-impact moves like running, jumping, skipping rope,
Here are 15 low-impact workouts you can try today, ranked by calorie burn (based on a 150-pound female exercising for 30 minutes). Remember, the amount of calories you burn during a particular fitness routine is determined by several factors, including your weight, gender and intensity level).
Kettlebell Class: 600 calories per half hour
If you're new to
Lap Swimming: 363 calories per half hour
Swimming is a great, no-impact exercise that maximizes calorie burn. You may feel awkward about wearing a bathing suit in public, but if you go early in the morning, you're likely to find a small group of people who are exercising, just like you. Start with a basic freestyle stroke (or crawl) that you likely learned as a child. You'll use all your major muscles, including your back, shoulders, core and
Besides a supportive swim suit, you might want to consider buying a pair of goggles to protect your eyes from the chlorine. Water exercise has a host of benefits; in addition to being easy on the joints, people generally work harder in
Boxing Class: 287 calories per half hour
Don't worry, you won't actually have to hit someone if you take a boxing class. Instead, you'll hit punching bags and shadow box (throw punches that don't make contact with anything), which is more challenging than it sounds. Your boxing instructor will likely lead you through some traditional calisthenics (be sure to skip the jumping jacks and
Rowing Machine: 281 calories per half hour
Few cardio workouts work your body from head to toe—without impact—the way rowing does. If you use proper form, a rowing machine will target all your major muscle groups, while simultaneously providing a serious cardiovascular challenge for any fitness level. You can control the intensity of the workout by increasing or decreasing the resistance of the machine and/or your own speed. To increase the calorie burn, try doing intervals of one minute of all-out effort, followed by a minute or two of lower intensity to catch your breath. Repeat the intervals 10 times to start. You can experiment with adjusting the length of time you spend at max effort versus recovery, as well as the number of intervals you complete per session.
Circuit Training: 264 calories per half hour
Circuit training adds an aerobic challenge to resistance training by alternating between different muscle-strengthening exercises with little to no rest between exercises. This elevates the heart rate and makes for a super-efficient workout. Many
Spinning: 238 calories per half hour
Although spinning, or indoor cycling, happens in a class environment, it's a very personal workout: You control everything from your speed to your resistance level, and no one but you knows just how hard you're working (or if you're taking it easy). Spinning is perfect for people who can't follow the choreography of a typical aerobics class since all you have to do is pedal a stationary bike. But if you push yourself, you certainly feel a burn in your lungs and your legs that means you're building strength and endurance.
If it's your first class, make sure your instructor helps you set up your bike properly; this will help keep your joints at the proper angle and alignment so that they don't become irritated or painful as you ride. At first, your "seat" will likely be sore after class, but that should diminish over time. You can also wear padded bike shorts to ease the discomfort.
Elliptical Machine: 232 calories per half hour
Elliptical trainers get their name from the elongated oval pattern in which you move your legs while you operate the machine. These machines combine aspects of the treadmill, stepper, bike and cross-country skier to create a low-impact cardio workout that burns major calories. Some
Rollerblading: 231 calories per half hour
If you enjoyed going to the skating rink as a teenager, you might enjoy this slightly more grown-up version of skating.
Like biking, safe
Recumbent Bike: 231 calories per half hour
Stationary bikes come in two varieties, upright and recumbent. Both provide an excellent low-impact cardio workout. But for people who are new to exercise or who suffer from low-back or hip pain, the recumbent bike offers a more supported seated position that will allow you
Zumba Class: 198 calories per half hour
Cardio dance classes (including Zumba) offer a fun way to burn calories in a group fitness setting that emphasizes music and rhythmic movement. Don't worry if you can't pick up all the choreography right away; Zumba is designed to be repetitive so that you can learn it more easily. You'll have plenty of chances to practice all the moves and you'll catch on in no time. Be sure to bring a towel and a water bottle with you because you are definitely going to sweat. A typical class lasts an
Ballroom Dancing or Square Dancing: 182 calories per half hour
Have a good time while you burn major calories—without setting foot in the gym. Your local dance studio probably offers a variety of dance classes and lessons. You can find classes on everything from classic ballroom to swing to square dancing. Not only does dancing burn calories, the social aspect of dance reduces stress, depression and loneliness. If you don't have a partner, you can likely find someone else to pair
Walking (15-minute mile or 4 miles per hour): 148 calories per half hour
Walking is the ultimate low-impact cardio workout. Just throw on a decent pair of athletic shoes and step right outside your own front door. But you need to move quickly to get the full cardio benefit of walking. You can add an app to your phone to make sure you're walking fast enough and keep track of your distance. Keep your elbows bent and pump your arms to help increase your speed. To burn more calories, try walking uphill. Be sure to keep your knees bent while going back down in order to absorb some of the extra impact. You can also add intervals to your walks to burn even more calories.
Power Yoga (Vinyasa or Ashtanga): 139 calories per half hour
While not all forms of yoga provide a good cardio workout, power yoga (which involves continuous movement from pose to pose) can bring your heart rate up, burn calories and build strength and flexibility. Look for classes that are described as
Water Aerobics: 132 calories per half hour
There are lots of ways to move your workout
Rebounding (Trampoline Jumping): 111 calories per half hour
Even though it involves jumping and both your feet will leave its surface simultaneously, rebounding or trampoline jumping is still considered a low-impact workout because the trampoline absorbs most of the shock (whereas a hard surface would not). Mini-trampolines are affordable and easy to use outdoors, or in a basement or