High impact vs low impact. Over the years I’ve been privy to a lot of discussions about high impact vs low impact exercise. Often there are many misconceptions over whether one is good or bad, or even the difference between the two. Excluding individuals who have legitimate health issues, I believe that both are a necessary part of a complete fitness regime (for healthy and fit adults).
HIGH IMPACT VS LOW IMPACT
High impact. Activities in this group include running, fast paced aerobics and jumping rope. Anything where both feet leave the ground at the same time fits into this category.
If you are healthy and fit then you are most likely good to go with high impact activities. As you get stronger, you’ll probably want to challenge yourself more, both with variety and your fitness levels. Just remember that you want to build up to the higher intensity. It’s all about working out smart and listening to your body. Start easy and progress to higher impact as you get stronger because overuse injuries suck (there’s no better way to put that).
Low impact. Activities which fit into this category are: walking, cycling, yoga. I’m including exercises such as Pilates, swimming and elliptical in this category as well, but they can also be considered as “no impact” since your body is supported throughout the workout.
If you are brand new to exercise, obese or recovering from injury, it’s probably best to stick with low impact workouts until you gain more strength. In addition, low impact activities are recommended for older adults, as well as those who have ongoing health issues such as osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. There is less ‘jamming’ on your joints and spine and thus less chance of injury. Now, of course, these exercises are great for fit individuals as well, but keep in mind that you will probably need to take them up a notch in order for them to be effective. What I’m saying is, don’t fool yourself into thinking that going for a leisurely walk is a great workout.
Pros and cons. There are, of course, pros and cons to both categories. The truth is that your bones get stronger and your bone density increases with high impact activities. On the flip side, however, do too much high impact exercises and you’ll start over-stressing your joints.
I believe that as with anything in life, variety is the key to success. For instance, when I was dancing I loved taking Pilates for the perfect fitness balance. Although the Pilates exercises were super challenging, I was able to take the pressure off my joints and focus on strengthening my muscles and improving my posture. So to avoid overdoing it, find your ideal cross training mix and you’ll soon be on your way to a fitter you!
Do you prefer low impact or high impact workouts?