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7 Great and Accessible Low-impact Cardio Workouts

3 min read

Since getting a knee-related injury that has sidelined me for a lot longer than I’d like to be, I’ve been thinking of ways of remaining engaged and active without putting stress on my knee.

Naturally, rest is the best medicine for any injury but, at the same time, you don’t want to just be docile; stretches and light, easy exercises (at the appropriate time) should accompany the recovery process. So, with this in mind, I figured injuries are a common occurrence for most and this had me thinking that compiling a list of low-impact workout ideas would be helpful for those who find themselves sidelined a lot and wondering what to do as alternative exercises during recovery.

Other than recovery, there are multiple reasons why you would seek a low-impact workout as opposed to a high-impact one, reasons such as: preference, injury prevention, ongoing injury issues (joints; muscles; etc.), a disability, or even access. The ones listed here shouldn’t provide issues and should be somewhat accessible.

1. Walking

We start our list with the bread and butter of any low-impact list. Walking in all its forms – hiking, as part of golf, and so on – is low-impact and good for you, and is very easy to initiate.

2. Cycling

For those not inclined to walking and dealing with the low-impact that comes with it, there is cycling which is considered a no-impact exercise because it doesn’t put strain on your joints.

The best thing about cycling is that with the development of technology if you enjoy sights on your ride but don’t have an actual bicycle or you wish to stay at home and use a stationary bike, you can cycle virtually and get engagement through that. Technology is wonderful, sometimes.

3. Swimming and Water-based Aerobics

Drifting away from sessions that are reliant on your legs, we go to swimming and any other water-based activity which aren’t necessarily wholly reliant on your legs, or, like cycling, are considered as no-impact activities. These are some of the friendliest options for those with pre-existing conditions, injuries, or going through rehab.

4. Yoga

Personally, I’m a little iffy about recommending this one but when done right, yoga (and other like routines) can become a workout session that gets your heart pumping. This is especially great for those looking to work on their mobility or those new to the practice; you might just find it challenges you a lot more than you expected.

5. Adaptive Dancing

For those who enjoy music and want to be active, the option is still available with adaptive dancing. Certain dance routines are changed to cater for those who may not have full mobility for one reason or another, and these are all readily available with an online YouTube search. Again, I say, technology can be a beautiful thing.

6. Gym-based Equipment

Sometimes you don’t need to look beyond the gym to provide an alternative option to get in low-impact exercises. Depending on your gym, it may have machines or equipment you wouldn’t readily have at home, and so even if you’re injured, you might want to keep your membership active. The type of things you can find would include such things as stationary machines like the elliptical, treadmill, rowing machine, arm bike, etc. or equipment like battle ropes.

7. Steady-state Workout Routine

Anything that has you doing an activity for a steady length of time can be a great option; Zumba, circuit workouts, interval training – anything that has you moving a lot for an elongated period does the trick (moving in ways you’re comfortable with, that is; no point in doing a series of movements that ask you to engage in something like plyometrics if you have joint issues). Essentially, burning calories boils down to raising your heart rate and the easiest way to do that is to move more.

Everything else on the list might be boring because they have you focusing on one type of movement throughout the workout session, whereas workout routines have you doing all sorts of movements, which may tickle the fancy of those who get bored, distracted, or fed-up easily.


A writer, gamer, geek, and gym rat all packaged into one. I'm a certified personal trainer who writes about the things he loves and I enjoy sharing them with others all on MXFitness.