A few years ago I had an accident whilst cycling. It was a short and sudden fall, but unfortunately had enough impact for me to break my wrist, and be signed off work and all forms of physical exercise for a few months. I’m not the most avid sporting enthusiast, but I found it frustrating to have my favourite physical outlet temporarily unavailable. A few weeks after my cast was taken off, I eagerly went for a cycle on a beautiful summer day. It didn’t take me long to realise I’d made a mistake. Every doctor had warned me not to attempt any intense exercise and to use low impact exercises until I’d returned to good form. Needless to say, it was a while until I was back on my bike again.
During this time, low impact exercises became my new vice. For just a short time each day instead of plunging headfirst into physical exertion, I took time to learn how to take time. In this blog, I’d like to explore the benefits of low impact exercise, and what it can do for those who want to get mobile, but might struggle with pain or discomfort whilst doing so.
Little Steps To Big Strides
The beauty of low impact exercise is that anyone can do it. Taking a small amount of time every day to stretch and move your muscles and body can have a big impact. It’s important to know your physical restrictions and tailor your low impact workout around them. Those experiencing discomfort or pain in their feet or knees, may want to avoid leg intensive activities like jogging or cycling, but may benefit from activities like swimming.
The important thing is to start in small increments. If you are experiencing discomfort or pain, try changing up your routine to avoid straining a certain area, or decrease the frequency of your low impact exercise. This steady warm up for your body, can help increase your mobility over time, leaving you happier, healthier and more mobile.
Yoga isn’t just for trendy mums and Hollywood celebrities. An age-old tradition, Yoga is a combination of meditation, stretching and breathing exercises. Yoga is a perfect candidate for low impact exercise. The slow and deliberate movements are perfect for getting more flexibility out of seized up limbs and aching joints. Great for balancing your breathing and physical movement, yoga can be a great way to start the day or warm up for more intensive exercise.
Yoga isn’t just a physical exercise. Focusing on your breathing whilst stretching is great for calming a troubled mind and lowering your heart rate. Yoga is also a low impact exercise for your mind. The self awareness practised in yoga is a great way to communicate with your body, and understand your needs and feelings on a day to day basis.
Diving into low impact exercise, doesn’t need to be strenuous. Swimming is a particularly effective low impact exercise, as the weightlessness of your body in water, will allow you to practise more flexibility and freedom of movement. Unlike high impact exercises like running, swimming provides a low risk environment for those who experience joint pain to get moving again.
The rhythmic nature of swimming is’t just great for building cardiovascular strength and improving your lung capacity though. Swimming is a meditative task that requires calm coordination between your limbs and muscles, which many people find calms the mind. So whether you’re attending a water aerobics class or just going for a splash around, make swimming part of your low impact exercise routine.
Cycling is a great choice for low impact exercise. All of the cardiovascular workout of jogging, but without applying too much pressure on the ankles and lower legs, many people have adopted cycling as part of their low impact exercise routine. The great thing about cycling is you can tailor your bike ride around your own physical abilities and limitations. Whether you prefer a leisurely cycle round the park or steep hill climbs, cycling is a great way to get out and about and enjoy nature whilst you exercise.
How do I incorporate low impact exercise into my routine?
There’s plenty of forms of low impact exercises to choose from, but now we’ve covered a few here are some tips on how you can incorporate low impact exercises into your daily life and workout routine.
Start Gradually. Low impact exercise is far more effective when practised in small consistent amounts. Start small, and allow your body to adjust to your new exercise routine.
Choose Variety. Don’t just limit yourself to one form of low impact exercise. Try different combinations of low impact exercise to stimulate different muscle groups and keep your workout routine interesting and dynamic.
Listen to your body. Low impact exercise is all about not overdoing it. If you feel yourself straining yourself, try exercising for less time, and avoid over exercising any area of your body that is causing you pain or discomfort.
Warm up and cool down. Never start any form of exercise without a good stretch and warm up. This will not just increase the effectiveness of your low impact exercise, but will greatly reduce your risk of pain or injury afterwards.
Be Consistent. Consistency really is key to a good low impact exercise workout routine. You don’t have to be breaking personal records everyday, just getting your heart and body working together for five minutes a day can greatly improve your health and quality of life.
Trying to live a healthier lifestyle can sometimes feel like an uphill struggle. But it really doesn’t have to be. Making small changes can have a big impact on your mind and body, and low impact exercises are a great way to kickstart both. Find some time in the day, whether it’s five minutes in the morning or an hour after work, to gently stretch and increase your heart rate and engage in low impact exercise. It won’t be long until you notice the benefits small amounts of exercise can achieve. So let’s start small, and get moving again. It’s only natural.