While most people desire the health benefits of exercise, not all exercise can or should be performed by everyone. For many people, health conditions or long-term injuries prevent them from taking up some of the more demanding forms of exercise.
If you fall into one of those categories, low-impact exercise may be what you’re looking for. Designed to limit stress on the body, low-impact exercise can still be intensive enough to provide cardiovascular and musculoskeletal benefits. You don’t need to be a mountain climber or marathoner to obtain rewarding levels of personal fitness, but you do need regular exercise in order to maintain your health and well-being. Consider the following forms of exercise as a way to meet your fitness goals:
Walking. The simplest form of exercise is still one of the best. This low-cost, low-stress workout will benefit your body and mind without taking a toll on your body. Just make sure your shoes are up to the distance and terrain challenges.
Swimming is one of the most grueling exercises out there. However, it can be done by almost anyone since its demands on the body’s joints are practically non-existent.
Elliptical trainer. This stationary exercise machine provides a full-body cardio workout while limiting impact on joints.
Cycling. Whether stationary or in motion, pedaling a bike burns major calories without punishing your body.
While building muscles is a common fitness goal, it’s not what every person needs or wants. Many people find that endurance training is more up their alley. Both strength and endurance training boast health benefits, but concentrating on one type may be more beneficial for you based on your needs or goals.
Endurance training, or aerobic exercise, is any physical activity that works large muscle groups and uses more oxygen than while resting. The goal of aerobic exercise is to increase cardiovascular endurance. Examples of aerobic exercise include aerobics, cycling, swimming, running, walking, hiking and fast-paced sports like tennis and soccer.
Strength training is designed to firm, strengthen and tone your muscles, as well as to improve balance, coordination and bone strength. Strength training is also called resistance training or anaerobic exercise, and includes body weight exercises (pushups, pull-ups, and crunches), free weights, weight machines and resistance tubing.
Depending on your fitness goals, you may want to focus more heavily on one type of training. However, a balance of the different styles is recommended for optimal health benefits and fitness level.
Whether meandering from the couch to the refrigerator for a snack or cruising around the block as part of an exercise routine, almost everyone includes some walking into their day. Walking is a great form of exercise for achieving better health and burning calories. But do you know the recommended amount of walking to achieve optimum benefits?
Studies show that walking 10,000 steps, or about 5 miles, is an excellent daily goal for most people. But you don’t have to do endless laps around the local high school track; steps throughout your day all add up to a healthier you. Try wearing a pedometer to help you monitor how close you are to reaching your goal—whether you start by aiming for 5,000, 10,000 or 20,000 steps a day. Here are some ways to incorporate more steps into your daily life:
Climb the stairs instead of awkwardly staring down strangers in the elevator.
Park a few spots farther from the door and stretch your legs with long strides before shuffling through a crowded store.
If you sit at a desk all day, drink a lot of water. Your body will periodically remind you to get up for a stroll to the restroom.
Window-shop downtown or at the mall instead of surfing online stores.
Give in to those puppy eyes and take your dog for a walk.
Every step counts so keep walking! Although a vigorous walk of at least 30 minutes has additional benefits, reaching 10,000 steps every day is a great start toward better health.