10 Low-Impact Cardio Exercises

Low-impact cardio exercises are those in which your feet don’t leave the exercise surface (or do so gently) so that your joints are less stressed during and after a workout. The trick is finding the right one for you.

Cardio workouts increase your heart rate, which improves cardiovascular health over time. They are among the best ways to burn calories and shed extra pounds. They also include some of the most effective low-impact exercises out there. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends thirty minutes of moderate cardio exercise, five days a week, or twenty minutes of vigorous exercise, three days a week.

 Here are ten low-impact cardio exercises that you can do to achieve your fitness goals:


Walking is probably the easiest and most accessible option for most people. Make sure you have a good pair of walking shoes. You may also want to take your dog along or find a walking partner that can serve as a good accountability buddy for your exercise regimen. Walk at a brisk pace, and, if you’re walking outside, swing your arms to increase the intensity. You could also try interval training – adding short bursts of speed or walking up an occasional steep hill.

Step aerobics

Step aerobics is ideal if you like choreographed exercise. Step aerobics requires a small elevated platform (usually 4 inches off the ground). Just make sure you maintain a moderate pace and bend your knee no farther than a 90-degree angle during the step portion of the workout.


Swimming is another great choice for low-impact cardio exercising. The water supports your body and works against the resistance of the water, adding additional intensity. Swimming is a great exercise option for people with joint problems.

Elliptical machines

Elliptical machines allow the body to experience all the aerobic and cardio benefits of running but with none of the jarring impacts on the joints. Increasing the intensity or length of your workout will challenge your body even further, and you will see rapid results.

Stationery bike

The stationary bike is also easy on the joints. Just make sure you vary your speed and the resistance of the pedals for better, faster results.

Inline skating

Inline skating may take some practice but is another great option for low-impact exercise. Many areas have paved areas for skaters. Be sure to wear a helmet and protective knee and elbow pads in case of falls.

Low-impact circuit training

Low-impact circuit training is great for any workout routine, and it is easily adaptable to a low-impact cardio workout. Knee lifts, arm movements and other exercises to make up the circuit will give you great results without damaging the joints if done correctly.


Rowing is a great low-impact exercise and you can control the intensity – the harder you row, the more resistance the machine offers. Rowing gives you a much more intense upper-body workout than most other cardio machines.


Jogging is a good exercise for your heart. You can do this at home, as you jog in place in front of your television, or find a walking/jogging trail in your area and enjoy the outdoors during a brisk jog. Just remember to wear proper tennis shoes to reduce stress on your legs and ankles.

 Other low-impact exercises that you can do at home include jumping jacks, push-ups, crunches, leg lifts, squats, light weight lifting, and dancing.

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