Five Low Impact Workouts That Can Help You Get Fit and Save Your Knees

Workout Fitness

In high school, I was running miles every day for cross country and dancing daily, leaping and landing on a less-than-quality floor day after day after day. They say at 26-years-old, you stop growing and start aging, and it's really disturbing how true that felt for me. My lower back and knees started aching, with the cruel and unusual, equal-but-opposite reality that my metabolism began to slow down.

Pick one, you punk! Either let me work out in peace, or let me eat my ice cream uninterrupted! But it was not to be. 

So there I was, recently having moved back from cities where I walked miles a day just to get where I needed to go, and all the jumping in Insanity was making my ankle swell weirdly, so I had to stop. 

Is there any hope for those of us who beat up our bodies while we were young, or do we have to give up and give in? Let me introduce you to the weird and wonderful world of low-impact work outs.

Now, they may be called "low-impact," but the impact they can have on your body is anything but low. These workouts are generally defined as any workout during which one foot is on the ground at all times (unless you're in water), but trust me, you don't have to have both feet off the ground to get a good cardio workout, and running isn't the only path to a healthy body. 

Here are five of my favorite high-intensity, low-impact workouts: 

1. Swimming

Summertime is the perfect time to hit the pool and take up swimming. It couldn't get any lower impact, and who wants to run on a hot summer day anyway? Swimming is a great way to stay cool, get some sun and work out your entire body. 

2. Biking 

Whether inside on a stationary bike or outside on an actual bike, biking is a great option for getting your heart rate up and working your legs without destroying your joints. And, it's honestly just a lot of fun. I'm so much more likely to work out, and stick with it, if I'm having a good time. 

3. Strength Training

Yes, I mean lifting weights. And for the ladies, lifting weights is not going to make you look like The Rock. It actually gives you the best bang for your buck, as lifting weights keeps your body working long after you set down your last weight. I would recommend first timers visit a trainer to properly teach you how to lift and build a workout that suits your body and your goals. 

4. PiYo 

A combination of pilates and yoga moves makes up this workout video series from Beachbody, the same people who brought you Insanity. Only unlike Insanity, PiYo is joint and third-floor-apartment friendly. Your knees and downstairs neighbors will thank you for switching to this video series that will leave you just as sore as Insanity.

5. Pure Barre

While I love all five of these workouts, and incorporate them into my routine, Pure Barre is my current daily fix. If you think a low-impact workout can't get your heart pumping and your muscles screaming, please check out the Pure Barre studio nearest to you...and plan not to do too much walking or moving in general the day after. Pure Barre works every muscle you knew you had, and some you've never even noticed. The downside is that it can be a bit pricey, but with Pure Barre On Demand, you can get a month's worth of workouts for the price of one in-studio class, all from your own home. I definitely recommend going to a studio, however, if you've never done Pure Barre before. The instructors will help you understand the body positions and movements, and their in-person motivation helps you to keep you going through the pain. And if a 90-year-old can do it (that's right, I said 90! Watch the video!), you can, too!

Getting older doesn't mean we have to stop moving, and achy joints don't mean we are out of luck when it comes to exercise. It's all about finding a workout that works for you and that you can stick with. So check out one of my five low-intensity workouts to get fit, save your joints and have fun doing it.