Low-impact exercise options

The NHS recommends that we get 30 minutes of exercise, five times a week in order to stay fit and healthy but not everyone is capable of high-intensity exercise. Age, weight, health and pregnancy can all prove barriers to getting your daily exercise.

low-impact exercise

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Thankfully, low-impact exercise provides the answer and there are options to suit everyone, young and old.

Swimming is really the ultimate in low-impact exercise. Being in the water means you can exercise efficiently without putting any stresses or strains on your joints. Not only is it a great cardiovascular workout, but it tones the muscles, builds strength and you can take it at your own pace - all of which makes it an excellent choice for older people, overweight people, those with arthritis and those who are pregnant.

You never forget how to ride a bike and cycling offers a fun way to get your exercise while enjoying the scenery. Once again, there is no stress placed on the joints so it is an excellent choice for the elderly, arthritis sufferers and those who are overweight, and it makes for a good cardiovascular workout that will strengthen the lower body and improve stamina.

Do, however, make sure that your bike is the correct size and that the saddle and handlebars are the right height in order to avoid injury.

Focusing on breathing exercises and poses that strengthen the body whilst promoting good balance and flexibility, yoga will not only improve your physical fitness but is also a great stress-reliever.

Tai chi
The ancient Chinese art of Tai chi is all about looking after your mind and body. Though it won't do much if you are looking to burn calories, the slow, controlled movements improve strength, flexibility and balance, making it ideal for older people and those suffering with arthritis.

A particular favourite with those who suffer from back pain, the Pilates method uses a series of controlled movements and exercises to improve strength in abdominal, pelvic and back areas known as the core muscles. The exercises are specifically designed to balance the body, improve posture and help to realign the spine, so it is ideal for those with bad backs or anyone who is unable to do high-intensity, aerobic exercise.

By some way the easiest way to get low-impact exercise is simply to walk. Getting out and about on foot allows you to get the heart pumping and burn calories without damaging joints or muscles. A walk faster than a stroll is recommended in order to get the most out of your daily constitutional, and adding short bursts of speed or walking up a local hill are great ways to increase the intensity. And the best news is it's free and readily available.

For anyone looking to exercise, it is essential to start slowly and avoid injury. While all of the above are great low-impact ways to get and keep fit, those who suffer with a chronic condition such as arthritis, pregnant women and anyone who is severely overweight should speak to their doctor before embarking on an exercise programme.

Do you stick to low-impact exercise for medical reasons? What do you find works best for you? Leave your comments below...